City Limits – Why Australia’s cities are broken and how we can fix them

The Gratten Institute has recently released a book titled City Limits – Why Australia’s cities are broken and how we can fix them.  Written by Jane-Frances Kelly and Paul Donegan the book summarises ve the big issues besetting Australian cities, like declining home ownership, worsening traffic congestion, lengthening commutes, deepening social isolation, growing economic polarisation and deteriorating economic efficiency and then sets about trying to provide practical solutions to these city issues.

According to the authors, “Although many of the joys of Australian life are to be found in our cities, many of our problems are as well. Our bush heritage helped to define our identity, but today Australia is a nation of cities. A higher proportion of Australians live in cities than almost any other country, and most of our national wealth is generated in them. For most of the twentieth century, our cities gave us some of the highest living standards in the world. But they are no longer keeping up with changes in how we live and how our economy works. The distance between where people live and where they work is growing fast. The housing market isn’t working, locking many Australians out of where and how they’d like to live. The daily commute is getting longer, putting pressure on social and family life and driving up living costs. Instead of bringing us together, Australia’s cities are dividing Australians—between young and old, rich and poor, the outer suburbs and the inner city. Neglecting our cities has real consequences for our lives now, and for our future prosperity. Using stories and case studies to show how individuals, families and businesses experience life in cities today, City Limits provides an account of why Australia’s cities are broken, and how we can fix them.”

The Collaborative City

Released in late 2013, The Collaborative City report documents the contribution of public and private partnerships in New York City under the leadership of Mayor Michael R Bloomberg, a renowned philanthropist in his own right. The report notes the enduring role played by private sector businesses, non-profits, and philanthropy in shaping aspects of New York, and tells the story, through case studies and analysis, of how under the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg private partners began collaborating with the city government in new ways. The story is told by examining New York since 2002 (An evolving tradition of public-private collaboration), Governance in the 21st Century (Public-Private partnerships and emerging models of collaboration), Collaboration up Close (Case Studies of select partnerships), and ending up with the Keys to Success (Building effective partnerships).

State of the Australian Cities Reports

The State of Australian Cities reports bring together current research and data to present a comprehensive snapshot of Australia’s major cities. These annual reports detail changes in urban population and settlements, and examine research and data relating to productivity, sustainability and liveability.

Grattan Institute

Based out of Melbourne, the Grattan Institute is an independent think tank that has been developing high-quality public policy since 2008.  Grattan Institute’s mission is to be independent, rigorous and practical with all their work and publications.  There are six  program areas: productivity growth; school education; higher education; energy; cities; and health.

The Grattan Institute Cities program in recent years has developed a suite of reports on city issues, including:


5000+ was a design-led project for the redesign, renewal and reactivation of inner Adelaide. Operating between June 2011 and December 2012, the project collected and enabled ideas and propositions from design professionals, businesses, not-for-profit organisations, government agencies and academia. The result was the development of a set of guiding principles and a place shaping framework.

There is an extensive resource library from 5000+ that includes:

LSE Cities

The London School of Economics established LSE Cities as an international centre for cities research, education and provision of outreach activities in London and around the world. The aim of LSE Cities is to explore how, in a rapidly urbanising world people interact, by looking at the influence of city design on society, environment and culture. It does this through research, conferences, teaching and projects, with a view to influencing thinking and practice to make cities fairer and more sustainable for future generations of city dwellers.

Atlantic Cities: Place Matters

Atlantic Cities mission is to look to the most innovative ideas and pressing issues confronting cities and neighbourhoods around the world. It does this by bringing together news, analysis, data and trends, promoting its website as ‘an engaging destination for an increasingly urbanised world’. Atlantic Cities is part of the media stable of The Atlantic, which is based in Washington in the United States.

McKell Institute

Based in New South Wales, the McKell Institute is a relatively new independent public policy institute dedicated to developing practical policy ideas and contributing to public debate.  One of the Institute’s publications relevant to cities is Homes for All – The 40 things we can do to improve supply and affordability.

The mission of is to promote a new story for 21st century cities and regions. Areas of interest identified as challenges for cities include costs of energy, patterns of car useage, the growth of suburbs, and the fate of inner suburbs. Every week, issues a new column online. is part of the Citistates Group, based in Washington, United States.

Reconnecting America

Reconnecting America is a national not-for-profit that integrates transportation and community development to create better communities for all based in Oakland, California. Reconnecting America develops research and innovative public policy, while also building on-the-ground partnerships and convening players needed to accelerate decision making.

Their recently released report Are We There Yet? Creating Complete Communities for 21st Century America explores the attributes of communities and regions that help the people who live and work there to succeed. Their website also has a resource centre that contains case studies, research, technical, and policy documents on topics related to transit oriented development and liveable communities.

Street Films

Street Films is an organisation based in the United States that produces short films showing how smart transportation design and policy can result in better places to live, work and play. Their over-500 videos are available to view for free on their website.

Centre for Cities

Based in the United Kingdom, the Centre for Cities promotes itself as the first stop ‘for independent research and policy analysis on UK city economics’. Recent reports include Beyond the High Street, about the importance of city centres as well as High Streets in supporting the jobs of the future, and Small Business Outlook 2013.

Individual Publications

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