Social Sustainability

People are the essence of our cities, communities and places. In planning for our future we look at the needs of people, their changing diversity, their health and wellbeing, their sense of belonging and the infrastructure and services they will need to lead active and fulfilling lives.

Our Social Sustainability team has extensive experience in planning for growing and changing communities. We focus on providing long-term positive outcomes and understand the diverse range of social elements that contribute to the creation of strong, vibrant and socially sustainable communities. A sense of community and feelings of belonging, safety and identity are all key features of desirable places to live, work and enjoy. These elements don’t always just occur by chance – they require a strategic planning focus. Our respected team has worked with all levels of government, not-for-profit organisations and the private sector to deliver desirable places across Australia.

Our Social Sustainability practice is led by Steve Rossiter and Melinda Hewitt. Elton Consulting’s services in this area include: 


Social impact assessment

Our specialist Social Impact Assessment (SIA) consultants work closely with project teams to deliver practical, robust and independent SIAs and peer reviews. We provide SIAs as both standalone reports and as part of Environmental Impact Statements for residential, commercial and infrastructure projects. Our clients include private sector proponents, government agencies and departments.

We believe the scoping of potential impacts at project commencement is critical to mitigating project risk. Costly delays at later planning stages can be avoided by addressing potential adverse impacts early in the project design process. Community and stakeholder engagement undertaken in a respectful and meaningful way is also necessary to demonstrate that the concerns of people affected by the project are taken into account.

Our holistic perspective of SIA fundamentally considers human health and wellbeing as part of broader environmental impact assessment practice. We take a precautionary approach to our assessments clearly articulating both the concerns and opportunities that may arise from changes in a community. We fully appreciate how customising mitigation strategies to avoid or minimise any potentially adverse social impacts and maximising positive social impacts can lead to better project and community outcomes. Our attention to detail in understanding each impact’s characteristic in the project’s locality supports these nuanced responses.

SS_Soc_InfrSocial infrastructure and community facilities planning

Elton Consulting is a national leader in planning social infrastructure for both new and established areas. Social infrastructure planning typically involves undertaking demographic analysis, population forecasting associated with urban development and assessing social needs and issues resulting from population growth and demographic change. We create a strong evidence base and use our knowledge of leading practice in social infrastructure to develop practical solutions that balance asset management responsibilities with community benefit. 

Our community facilities studies use a multidisciplinary approach to ensure that social dimensions, including the promotion of healthy lifestyles, safety, access to community facilities and services, sense of community and belonging are incorporated into the planning process for new and redeveloped facilities. We have a broad and holistic understanding of community facilities provision with our services including needs assessment, initial facilities planning, strategies to improve utilisation, leasing and licensing, facility models and post occupancy evaluation. 

SS_Dem_anaDemographic analysis and social research

While research and analysis are components of many of our social planning projects, Elton Consulting also has specialist social research capabilities. The team has extensive experience working with a variety of qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. We work with our clients to develop project methodologies that focus on answering key research questions efficiently and effectively. Our social research projects involve a variety of methods including large scale representative surveys, key stakeholder or expert interviews and focus groups. We use a range of social media in our research projects and utilise a variety of traditional and web-based tools depending on individual project requirements.

SS_Plan_HealthPlanning healthy built environments

How our built environment influences health and wellbeing has been a key interest of Elton Consulting’s for several years. Our Social Sustainability team has worked with a number of key partners in this field to develop plans, strategies and tools to encourage the creation of environments that promote better health through active living, social connection, improved housing, and the provision of services. Our work has ranged from developing the Healthy Urban Development Checklist to preparing strategies for how local government and Health can work together to achieve shared goals. 

SS_Com_DevCommunity development and place making

Community development and place making programs focus on strategies to create strong and connected communities. Elton Consulting has considerable experience working with government agencies and developers to deliver community development programs that incorporate both large and small scale community events and processes to empower residents to organise activities and programs in their own communities and to build the links and networks that form a strong community.

Please refer to our social sustainability capability statement for more information on our services and the projects we have worked on.

We focus on providing long term positive outcomes and understand the diverse range of social elements that contribute to the creation of strong, vibrant and socially sustainable communities.