Australia’s population is projected to grow to nearly 40 million by 2055 (ABS 2016). This increase will be concentrated in our capital cities. Population growth will affect all aspects of the environment, including heritage.
Along with population growth, associated increasing recognition and prominence of heritage places can result in increased visitation to heritage places, leading to opportunities for interpretation and transmission of heritage values, but also potential damage or vandalism. Pressures from damage are greatest in popular heritage areas. In general, pressures from vandalism tend to be greatest in remote, unregulated areas, and where there is poor communication about heritage values and appropriate visitor behaviour. In addition, increasing urban density and rural decline may result in reduced attachment to local heritage places (see also the Built environment report–Increased urban footprint).
However, there is also likely to be an increase in the average age of Indigenous Australians in the future (ABS 2009), with recent data suggesting that, in the lead-up to 2026, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population will grow by 2.2 per cent per year compared with a projected annual growth rate of 1.6 per cent for the total Australian population (ABS 2014b). The increasing Indigenous population may create opportunities for transmission of knowledge and culture.