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One of AIDA’s aims is to raise community awareness of, and canvass the community’s views on, issues of significance in the district. In addition, AIDA supports environmental, sociological and other studies and surveys by the Surf Coast Shire or other bodies such as the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority (GORCAPA).

Over the nearly sixty years of AIDA’s existence, the community has displayed remarkable constancy of opinion on the importance of preservation of our natural environment and the desirability of retaining and conserving the special rural-coastal character of our settlements and their environs.

In response to this robust and consistent community feedback the Surf Coast Shire has developed planning tools and neighbourhood character overlays, which in conjunction with zoning regulations has largely protected the existing low-key character of our residential communities.

Community Attitude Surveys – AIDA has been surveying community attitudes on many aspects of environment and its preservation since 1983. Surveys were taken at approximately 10-year intervals (in 1983, 1990 and 1999) and then in 2015 and 2020. The results demonstrated a consistent and almost unanimous desire to retain and conserve the special rural-coastal character of our settlements and their environs.

The most recent questionnaire in 2020 followed the far-sighted plan to include many of the same questions in all the surveys so an understanding any shifts or patterns of community attitudes over time can be determined. This has provided invaluable information on the values and views of our members and the broader community. This 30-year history has resulted in the development of a longitudinal analysis of local opinions.


AIDA’s 2020 Community Survey, conducted during the last quarter of 2020, was designed to gauge our community’s opinions on a range of key issues that are important to the future of our coastal townships. It is vital to know the community’s views on its built and natural environment, its facilities, its economy, what it loves and enjoys, what are perceived as future challenges and how they might be confronted, so that this knowledge can be used to take actions to protect and preserve what is most valued about the area.

The 2020 community attitude survey adds to the longitudinal data AIDA collected in 1983, 1990, 1999 and 2015. Some new questions were added and a few questions that had become redundant were discontinued. The full longitudinal survey data set can be accessed here.

During the 2020 survey, we were particularly interested in hearing from people in the community who were not AIDA members but who wished to have their say. This was the case for more than half of the 398 respondents. The survey response rate was pleasing as too was the high positive response to the idea of surveys as a mechanism for community engagement around critical issues and decisions. It was also pleasing to find that the wider community’s attitudes are very much aligned with those of AIDA members, meaning there is strong support in the community to protect and preserve the low-key, coastal- village atmosphere of our townships and our environment.

The 2020 data has been divided into six themes so that it presents a more understandable and compelling picture of the community’s attitudes to:

  • the essential character of the district
  • the core characteristics of the community
  • the type of tourism seen as valuable
  • the types of development seen as appropriate
  • opinions on key assets
  • the trends, challenges and opportunities for our future.

You can explore the data at several levels of analysis if you wish – from an overview of the key themes and their relevant questions, to the possibility of reviewing the raw data and the more than 2600 comments made by the respondents.

I heartily encourage you to read the full article containing  the comprehensive analysis of the survey results and the insights obtained from it, which can be obtained from the following link:  AIDA_Survey_Results.

The raw data from the survey is available via  AIDA 2021 Community Survey DATA output .

2004 – Aireys Inlet to Eastern View Neighbourhood Character Survey

Neighbourhood character is described in the Victorian Planning Provisions (VPP) Practice Note as being:

“..Essentially the combination of the public and private realms. Every property, public place or piece of infrastructure makes a contribution. It is the cumulative impact of all these contributions that establishes neighbourhood character. The key to understanding character is being able to describe how the features of an area come together to give that area its own particular character.

The objectives of this study, which was carried out by Dr. Ray Green, Head of Landscape Architecture, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne,  under the auspices of the Surf Coast Shire, were to:

– Maintain and enhance the distinctive coastal character and features of the Aireys Inlet, Fairhaven, Moggs Creek and Eastern View townships. This involved consideration of homogenous characteristics and areas of diversity across the townships.

– Provide greater certainty for the community and the development industry in terms of what development, and development attributes, would be compatible with the character of different areas and neighbourhoods within the towns.

– Establish a systematic methodology for the ongoing monitoring of planning decisions and review of planning controls to achieve the above objectives.

The full report is available at Aireys Inlet to Eastern View Neighbourhood Character Study 2004.

2012 – Findings of community consultations and surveys performed by GORCC during development of a new Coastal Management Plan

A complete description of the consultations and surveys and their findings can be found in GORCC’s Draft GORCC Coastal Management Plan May 2013. A summary of the finding is as follows: When asked what they value about the coast, a majority of respondents (which included residents, holiday home owners and visitors to the area) nominated various aspects of the natural environment, including its visual beauty, native wildlife and the seclusion and escape it offers. The lack of or limited amount of development along the coastline was another significant response. When queried on their vision for the coast, most respondents described their perfect coast as not significantly different from today – clean, accessible, undeveloped with natural values protected and advanced. Another lesser, but still popular, theme that emerged was that necessary infrastructure should be sensitively built, of high quality and low impact to the environment.

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