Creating inclusive communities through balancing social mix: a critical relationship or tenuous link?
This paper explores some fundamental assumptions being linked by State Housing Authorities to ‘social mix’ strategies in contemporary Australian public housing estate regeneration policy. Six case study estates, two each in new South Wales, South Australia and Queensland form the basis for the empirical analysis. The two major ideas emerging from South Australian and Queensland projects are: first that lowering concentrations of public housing and developing more mixed income communities offers a means to reconnect socially excluded public housing tenants to mainstream society; second that a balanced social mix is a prerequisite for the development of ‘inclusive’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘cohesive’ communities. However, in light of the empirical findings that strong cohesive communities already exist on some estates prior to regeneration commencing, there is no evidence that a balanced social mix is a necessary condition for building inclusive communities. Coupled with findings in the projects of inadvertent negative consequences of implementing social mix policies, the paper questions whether policy makers are over-emphasising the extent to which social mix assists regeneration.