Australian Cities Week: what it is and how you can get involved

In collaboration with Guardian Australia, Guardian Cities is devoting a week to exploring Australian cities – and we want to hear from you

Australia’s cities face challenges as distinct as their characters, but one is consistent across all of them: change.

The nation of nearly 25 million has one of the highest rates of population growth of any OECD country, overwhelmingly focused on its cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth in particular. Such rapid expansion presents opportunities; the question is, are Australian cities ready to seize them?

Car dependence, urban sprawl and unaffordable housing pose significant threats to their famed “liveability”, while urban planning and Indigenous consultation are often criticised as inadequate.

This week, Guardian Cities has joined forces with Guardian Australia to explore some of these issues, as well as what makes Australia’s cities such unique and desirable places to live.

As the politician and urban planning advocate J D Fitzgerald wrote in 1907: “Sydney, so full of contrasts – contrasts of wealth and poverty, of palace and slum, of commercial concentration and efficiency, with civic ineptitude and dismemberment – will repay study.” The sentiment applies to all of Australia’s cities.

We ask whether Sydney can achieve its ambitious vision of transforming itself into “a metropolis of three cities”, and if Melbourne can hang on to the sense of community that has made it so famously liveable in the face of rapid population growth.

IndigenousX’s Jack Latimore finds the “dispersals” of Indigenous Australians in the past being repeated by gentrification. Sally Breen basks in the sun-soaked hedonism of the Gold Coast, revealing a more complex city than outsiders’ portrayals suggest, and at the Adelaide 500, Max Opray finds a community still wistful about the loss of its car industry, but determined to move on.

From Brisbane, Andrew Stafford talks to people hoping to foster the music scene’s next wave – or at least stop the city following in Sydney’s example. Melissa Davey reports on a plan to meet the challenges of Hobart’s rapidly ageing population using the brand of innovation and boundary-pushing associated with its famous art museum.

There are stadium wars and swimming pools, boomburbs and bin chickens, milk bars and dogs in cars. And what would an Australian special be without the marsupial-heavy brilliance of First Dog on the Moon?

Above all, we want to hear from you: whether you live in Australia or have just visited, we’d like to know your thoughts on how Australia’s cities have changed and where they are headed, and your hopes and fears for their futures. Share your opinions and experiences with us.

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