Photograph of people dining, and others walking, on Chapel Street South Yarra

The Inner South-east Partnership is one of six Metropolitan Partnerships established by the Victorian Government, recognising that local communities are in the best position to understand the challenges and opportunities faced by their region.

The Partnership’s vision is for a thriving and connected region that meets the needs of its diverse community.

To deliver this vision, the Partnership has five outcome statements, informed by our engagement work with the communities, businesses, service providers and local governments of Inner South-east Metropolitan Melbourne:

  • Social connection - the region provides social connection and opportunities to participate in community life
  • Vibrant economies - businesses are attracted to the inner south-east and create jobs for vibrant socially connected hubs
  • Transport connectivity - it's safe and reliable to move around and people are connected to local jobs, education and leisure
  • Sustainable environments - the region protects and regenerates landscapes to respond to environmental sustainability for more liveable communities
  • Affordable Housing - affordable housing options are available to support the region's growing community and economy

Our vision, and outcome statements, form part of our Regional Framework, which aligns the priorities of the region's local governments in order to drive coordination and collaborative action across the inner south-east.

Meet our members

The Inner South-east Partnership is in its second term, with the current membership appointed in August 2021. Each partnership is made up of community and business representatives with varied backgrounds, experiences and networks, the CEO of each of local government in the region.

Josef possesses 20 years’ experience in multijurisdictional CBD creation and regeneration projects in Australia, Asia and the United Kingdom. He is the current Regional General Manager, Development at Vicinity Centres. Josef led the transformation of Chadstone into an alternate CBD environment and a mixed-use destination. He has a background in master planning and redevelopment of resorts, precincts and shopping centres. Josef holds a Bachelor of Arts and is committed to the Inner South-east's ongoing economic growth by creating places of the future where people can work, play and live in one community.

Dr Michelle Lim is the Chief Scientific Advisor and Chairperson for Ending Loneliness Together, a national not-for-profit focused on reducing chronic loneliness in Australia. Dr Lim is the Director of the Social Health and Wellbeing Laboratory at Swinburne University, which generates the latest evidence-based research and solutions addressing loneliness. Dr Lim is part of VicHealth’s inaugural research expert advisory panel and the co-Director of the Global Initiative on Loneliness and Connection.

Lizzy is carving out her own niche at the intersection of economics (which she is currently studying), youth development, diversity and inclusion and has facilitated opportunities for young people’s perspectives to be captured through the Metropolitan Partnership. Lizzy established a group for South Sudanese youth in 2008. In 2012, she was awarded the Empowering Monash Women's Award for her role as a dedicated youth leader and human rights activist. In 2021, Lizzy was appointed to the Victorian Multicultural Commission - strengthening the Commission’s work advocating for Victoria’s multicultural communities through their diverse skills and lived experiences.

Get to know Lizzy in the video below.

Diane is an academic at Swinburne University and researches new ideas about the interaction between citizens and social authorities (such as the police). Her research is focused on the way we design those interactions between social authorities and citizens, and their contribution to social cohesion and trust in government. Diane is passionate about using her learning and networks to work closely with state and local government to codesign solutions to isolation, loneliness and many other pressing issues in the Inner South-east region.

Philip is a transport planner with strong local connections as a former councillor and active volunteer in several community groups across the inner south-east region. He has a background in urban planning and public policy and has held roles across several sectors, including Deputy Chair of the Eastern Affordable Housing Alliance, President of the Melbourne International Relations Society and Co-Convenor of Maptime Melbourne. Philip has been a Partnership member since 2017.

Gheran Steel, a traditional owner of the Boonwurrung peoples, has 20 years experience in operations and people management in the commercial sectors, as well in the not-for-profit sector, where he served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Boon Wurrung Foundation. He has established relationships with Glen Eira, Stonnington, and Bayside councils, as well as many others with the purpose of creating a better understanding of indigenous heritage.

Sue Boyce is CEO of Ability Works, a certified social enterprise providing employment to 197 members of the community with a disability and those experiencing social disadvantage. Sue was previously on the Executive Management team at Beyond Blue and General Manager for Fundraising and Community Engagement for 4 years. Sue also brings 25 years of commercial experience in senior business management and business development roles.

Devendra has been a Regional Advisor for the Victorian Multicultural Commission representing the Southern Metropolitan Region where he provided support for migrant and refugee settlement services, employment, education, housing and connection to culture. Devendra brings experience in a range of engagement roles within multinational corporations, media houses, educational institutions, national peak bodies, associations, local government and state government.

Megan is a Development Consultant with more than 20 years’ experience spanning Australia and the Middle East. She is currently the Principal Consultant for Megnik Consulting and Director of Stakeholder Engagement for Hybrid Energy Australia. Megan’s expertise is in business development, training & development, and project management, with experience working in a diverse range of sectors including renewables, global countertrade offset, government and education. Megan has served on the Victorian Multicultural Small Business Advisory Council and brings to the table a wealth of demonstrated experience in cross-cultural understanding.

Laura is the Evaluation Lead of the South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network and assesses the impact and effectiveness of primary health projects in mental health, suicide prevention, after-hours primary care and chronic disease. Laura holds a Master of Business Administration major in Health and Human Services Management and Bachelor of Nursing at Deakin University.

The Chief Executive Officers of Bayside, Boroondara, Glen Eira and Stonnington City Councils are ex officio members of the Inner South-east Metropolitan Partnership.

Person and their dogs along the bay

What we've heard

We undertake a range of engagements to understand the issues and opportunities faced by the communities of Inner South-east Melbourne.

During 2021 - 2022, the Partnership focused on the implementation of key focus areas aligned with the Partnership’s Regional Framework, in particular the re-activation of local activity centres.

The Partnership endorsed four key projects for funding through the Metropolitan Partnership Development Fund (MPDF):

  • The Chatty Café Scheme
  • Bare to Beautiful Program
  • Digital Pathways Program
  • Renew Chapel

The projects focused on re-activating local activity centres for social connection and economic development purposes. Project Working Groups for each of these projects provided opportunities for key community stakeholders to help inform and shape their implementation, with support from local and state government representatives.

Additionally, a series of three online engagements were held across November and December. These explored the recovery and future of inner Melbourne and how the suburbs interact with it; emerging economies and the jobs of the future and social cohesion in Melbourne's suburbs.

You can read more about these engagements, and watch recordings of the panel discussions, by visiting the 2021 Flagship Engagements webpage.

In the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the partnership moved engagements online to ensure community voices from the inner south-east continued to be safely heard by government. We sought input on the impacts of the pandemic and what recovery can look like.

Regional Framework

The partnership’s signature event was an online panel discussion where experts explored three topics of concern from the Partnerships’ Regional Framework:

  • Local economies and jobs
  • Social isolation and loneliness
  • Sustainable transport

Inner South-east Recovery Roundtable

The partnership heard of the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable members of the community including people who already experienced economic and housing vulnerability, mental health issues and older and isolated people. It also found an increasing number of people were experiencing social isolation, loneliness family violence and health vulnerability.

Youth Engagement – Festival of Learning

The Partnerships held a two-day online engagement with diverse young people from across metropolitan Melbourne. The engagement sought to understand the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic upon young people and to seek their ideas on what the road to recovery might look like.

We formed a co-design committee of young Melburnians to ensure the event was structured in a format that appealed to young people.

We heard that the pandemic had worsened the existing issues that young people already faced – especially employment and mental health.

Participants shared recommendations to address these issues, some of which included:

  • A Youth Mental Health Strategy
  • A Statewide Youth Jobs Strategy
  • An increased focus on International Students
  • Connected services for young people

You can read a summary of the engagement by downloading the summary report.

In 2019, the Inner South-east Partnership undertook three targeted engagement activities:

  1. Business Roundtables to develop a strategy that improves the economic vibrancy of the region, focusing on keeping people working close to where they live. Findings from this engagement informed the Strategy for Vibrant Local Economies in the Inner South East Region.
  2. Social Isolation and Loneliness Project - targeted community consultations and service provider workshops to develop journey maps capturing an individual’s feelings of connectedness; and an assets-based map identifying services accessed by the community to feel more connected. The findings from these sessions informed the Social Isolation and Loneliness Project Report 2019.
  3. Making Connections - a signature event that brought together a diverse range of stakeholders to hear from experts and explore loneliness and social isolation in the Inner South-east region. You can read the Making Connections Workshop Proceedings and the presentation on social isolation from keynote speaker Michelle Lim. The Loneliness and Isolation Project Report 2019 was also presented at this engagement.

The Partnership held its second annual Assembly in May 2018 at McKinnon Secondary College, where it heard directly from the community on how to ensure the region is liveable, equitable and agile into the future.

Participants reviewed the fifteen priorities of 2017, and identified that issues of environment and open space and transport connectivity were still priorities for the region.

Through a series of activities, additional priorities for 2018 were surfaced. These included community connectedness, opening up spaces for sporting and recreational activities and managing development.

To explore the issues discussed in more depth, read the 2018 Inner South-east Assembly report.

2018 Metropolitan Partnerships Youth Assembly

Young people aged 15-19 years from school and youth organisations across Melbourne’s six regions, including the inner south-east, came together in a Youth Forum hosted by the Metropolitan Partnerships at the State Library of Victoria.

The full-day engagement included small group discussions, a panel seminar and region-specific breakouts to discuss life in their regions. The three top priorities nominated by young people from Melbourne’s inner south-east were:

  • an inclusive curriculum
  • affordable and social housing
  • environmental sustainability

You can read in greater depth about the discussions and outcomes of the engagement in the 2018 Metropolitan Partnerships Youth Forum report and watch highlights from the Inner South-east breakout discussions in the video below.

How the Victorian Government responded

Our community engagement work informs our annual advice to government. You can read how the Victorian Government responded to our advice on the 2018 priorities for the Inner South-east Metropolitan Region by downloading How Government is responding: The 2019 Report Back.

The Partnership held its inaugural Assembly in August 2017, bringing together more than 100 representatives of community, business, service providers and local and state government to determine the key priorities for the Inner South-east Metropolitan Region.

Fifteen action statements to address priorities in the region were developed and participants believed two were the highest priority to act upon:

  • Provide green space and regional sporting facilities on surplus government land, create air rights over rail corridors, schools and the racecourse especially in high growth areas
  • The Planning Act is amended to preference the health of communities and neighbourhoods over development and big business.

You can also download a copy of the 2017 Assembly report in PDF or Word formats.

People exercising at the park

What we've done

Since our establishment in 2017 we've invested in research and projects to further explore, and act upon, the priorities raised by the people of our region.

We commission this work with the Metropolitan Partnerships Development Fund and then share the findings and outcomes with government to inform policies and programs.

This project addresses the issue of social connection and activity centre activation. It builds on the learning and impact of the Bayside Chatty Café scheme by expansion into the Glen Eira and Stonnington LGAs. Having demonstrated the scheme’s effectiveness in recovery and community resilience, Bayside will share learnings and guide implementation across the Inner South-east Councils to integrate the scheme within local services and programs. The Chatty Café organisation will build a network of local volunteers, host organisations and partners to reduce social isolation and loneliness and build community resilience.

Delivery of this project is being led by Bayside City Council and Chatty Café Australia and will engage the local councils of Glen Eira and Stonnington; local traders and community centres and libraries; Neighbourhood Houses Victoria and the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH).

The Chatty Café Scheme aimed to reduce social isolation and loneliness by creating opportunities for people to connect at participating venues within Bayside City Council. The project has engaged with more than a hundred Neighbourhood Houses, libraries, local cafes, restaurants and new parent groups. The project was very popular among customers, volunteers and host venues and positive social impact was consistently observed across multiple participant groups.

In 2022 / 2023, an expansion of this project has reached across two other Local Government Areas of the Inner South-east: Glen Eira and Stonnington.

You can read the report here.

The Vacant Shop Takeovers project aimed to transform and repurpose vacant shops along Chapel Street, revitalising the place experience and addressing the myriad of socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. The City of Stonnington has worked with the community and property owners to make vacant properties available for use by creatives and start-ups to trial their ideas to increase activity, foot traffic and engagement. Renew Australia undertook desktop research, stakeholder mapping, visual mapping of vacant spaces and stakeholder engagement with real estate agents, property owners and local businesses in the area to evaluate their interest and willingness to participate. This allowed the collection of useful insights/learnings that will inform future vacant shop activation programs. The project received positive feedback from participating artists and surrounding businesses which enabled the showcasing of high-quality works by diverse Australian artists and grassroots advocacy for greater integration of art and creative content in the urban environment.

You can read the report here.

The Bare to Beautiful program saw Boroondara City Council partner with landlords, real estate agents and trader associations to activate vacant shopfronts across Boroondara’s 53 shopping precincts. This involved the installation of 18 temporary floral decals designed by a local artist. A new aspect to the program, called Street Sounds, was added in November 2021 with roving musicians serenading in and around the shopping precincts that Bare to Beautiful participating properties were located. The objective was to re-invigorate and assist in the economic recovery of Boroondara’s shopping precincts following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decals also provided vibrancy and an attractive feel back to some of the precincts where vacant shops can have a negative impact. There was also no record of any vandalism or graffiti to any of the shops included in the program during the activations which was a positive outcome. The engagement of a local artist to design the decals and roving musicians provided a unique employment opportunity during a time where the creative and entertainment sector was heavily impacted by the COVID lockdowns. Overall, the project improved community and business wellbeing and community connections.

View the final report here.

Photograph of shopfront with flower decorations on the windows

Digital Pathways was a digital marketing short course designed for small business owners and sole traders across the Bayside, Boroondara, Glen Eira and Stonnington City Council areas. Having an online presence is important for all businesses. The economic impact of COVID-19 on small businesses placed an even greater emphasis on the need to develop digitally. Impressively 83% of participants reported a significant increase in their digital literacy and confidence in navigating digital spaces.

The project was delivered by a digital marketing specialist over 12 weeks with over 140 businesses participating. Each week included one seminar (presented live and published on YouTube) covering a different digital marketing topic as well as workshops where small groups of participating business owners worked closely with the digital marketing specialist to discuss digital marketing principles in greater detail, workshop their digital marketing plans and receive detailed feedback on their existing digital presence.

View the final report here.

A series of webinars are now available as a free resource to the wider business community, accessible via the City of Glen Eira website. Seminars available to watch include:

  1. Introduction to digital strategy and brand definition
  2. Defining your digital marketing goals
  3. Digital audience analysis and buyer personas
  4. Understanding the digital sales cycle
  5. Cultivating audience awareness
  6. Piquing audience interest and building trust
  7. Encouraging customer desire and consideration
  8. Delight part 1: The action phase
  9. Delight part 2: Cultivating loyalty
  10. How to measure your success
  11. Evolving your digital marketing plan
  12. Course in review

The Inner South-east Regional Framework identifies and aligns the priorities of the region’s local governments in order to secure funding and drive collaborative action across the local government areas of the inner south-east.

A supplementary report was also published to provide further detail on the work undertaken to identify the priority outcome areas and key actions of the framework.

With social connection identified as a priority area of the region, the Partnership commissioned the Infrastructure for Social Connection Report to explore what a place-based approach to reducing social isolation looks like and how prosocial connection can be encouraged.

The report provides six recommendations to the Partnership to inform its advice to government.

The Partnership commissioned research to support its focus upon opportunities for new enterprises and for people to live and work locally. The Strategy for Vibrant Local Economies in the Inner South-east Region provides an evidence base to support the revitalisation of local economic precincts in the region.

View the final report here.

The Inner South-east Partnership’s Social Isolation and Loneliness Project seeks to build an evidence base of the experiences of community members in the region of loneliness and social isolation.

A series of consultations were undertaken to understand the experiences of 30 community members representing three demographics: people above the age of 60 years; stay at home mothers and young people aged 17 to 25 years.

The report provides an understanding of the causes, barriers and enablers to overcoming social isolation and loneliness.

View the final report here.

Communities of the inner south-east have raised concerns on the affordability of housing, and the high demand for rental properties, in engagements in 2017 and 2018. To better understand this complex issue, the Partnership commissioned an independent report into the challenges and opportunities in housing in Bayside, Boroondara, Glen Eira and Stonnington local government areas.

The report was contributed as a submission to the Government’s 10 Year Housing Strategy and was shared with Homes Victoria and briefed to the Minister for Housing and the Minister for Planning.

The Inner South-east Metropolitan Partnership developed a strategy to advocate on the need for open spaces.

This advocacy demonstrated the need for the Suburban Parks Program which invested $154 million across Melbourne to create more than 6,500 hectares of parkland including 25 pocket parks benefiting communities across Melbourne, four of which are to be located in the Inner South-east.

The strategy has also informed the Inner South-east Regional Framework.

Inner South-east Metropolitan Region

Melbourne’s Inner South-east Metropolitan Region extends from Kew in Melbourne's inner east to Brighton on Port Phillip Bay. The area captures high density residential and retail precincts such as South Yarra as well as quieter residential streets through middle suburbs such as Balwyn, Bentleigh and Black Rock. The Inner South-east Metropolitan Region is a desirable residential location with strong retail employment.

The Inner South-east is the traditional home to the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation.

Metro train amidst buildings and treetops

Local Government Areas

  • Bayside City Council
  • Boroondara City Council
  • Glen Eira City Council
  • Stonnington City Council

Contact us


Page last updated: 15/05/23