Australian federal immigration policy gradually evolved during the second half of the twentieth century from a racist ideological mindset to one of multiculturalism and productive diversity. This change was precipitated mainly by Australia's obligation to uphold international agreements and developments in domestic welfare policy. Accordingly, migrants and refugees have contributed enormously to the nation's population growth and cultural diversity since World War Two.
The well-being of many thousands of refugees settling in Australia over this period has been determined not solely by their traumatic experiences, but also by the quality and appropriateness of the settlement services they receive upon arrival. As a group, refugees are highly susceptible to social and economic disadvantage. Adequate and affordable housing is regarded by community organisations and all levels of government, from the United Nations through to Australian Local Government, as essential for refugees' security and wellbeing.
In recent times, local government has expanded its mandate to encompass broader issues of citizens' quality of life, via its land-use planning and policy system. Potential exists within the local government planning regime to redress the underprivileged housing circumstances of refugees settling in Queensland local government areas. This thesis therefore focuses on the capacity of local government to assist in resolving refugee housing problems within the context of international and domestic policy objectives regarding social sustainability. Maroochy Shire Council is used as a case study to this end. The key focus of the thesis is to show how Queensland local governments can maximise the use of municipal planning and social policy instruments to enhance housing outcomes for long-term and permanent refugee settlers and contribute to more sustainable local communities in Queensland.