Whitehorse City Council

About Whitehorse

> Our Location
> Community Demographics - Census Data
> Demographic Factsheets
> Overview
> City of Whitehorse Economy
> Our History
> Our Logo
> Our Staff
> Our Vision
> Our Mission
> Our Values
> Services and Facilities
> Features
> Local Attractions


Our Location

The City of Whitehorse is located just 15 kilometres east of Melbourne and covers an area of 64 square kilometres. The municipality is bounded by the City of Manningham to the north, the Cities of Maroondah and Knox to the east, the City of Monash to the south and the City of Boroondara to the west. Whitehorse’s suburbs include Blackburn, Blackburn North, Blackburn South, Box Hill, Box Hill North, Box Hill South, Burwood, Burwood East, Forest Hill, Mitcham, Mont Albert, Mont Albert North, Nunawading, Surrey Hills, Vermont and Vermont South.

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Community Demographics – Census Data

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Demographics factsheets

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In 2017, the City of Whitehorse had an Estimated Residential Population of 173,233 and according to the 2016 Census data, there are around 60,431 households.

The City of Whitehorse has a lower proportion of pre-schoolers and of persons aged 25 to 34, with a higher proportion of people at post retirement age than Greater Melbourne. Around 17 per cent of our residents are aged 65 years and over as compared to 14 per cent, which is the Melbourne metropolitan average. It is predicted that the number of people aged over 65 is will increase by 9,811 by 2036 and represent almost 19 per cent of the population.

Households with children make up 44 per cent of the population in Whitehorse. Most, at 35 per cent, are couples with children. Two person households make up 23 per cent, while lone persons households make up 23 per cent of the population, compared to 22 per cent in Greater Melbourne. Household size in Australia has declined since the 1970’s but between 2006 and 2016; it remained stable for the nation as a whole.

Burwood and Box Hill have a high proportion of 18 to 24 year olds at 23 per cent and 18 per cent respectively which is representative of the student population. In comparison, 0 to 4 year olds make up only 4 per cent of the population in Box Hill, Vermont and Burwood.

We are also a culturally diverse community. In the 2016 Census it was found that 38 per cent of residents were born overseas and one third came from a non-English speaking background. The top five countries of birth are: China, India, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Whitehorse experienced growth of more than two thirds the number of people born in China from 2011 levels (an increase of 7,576 people born there).

Our large Chinese population is a real feature of the municipality, with 11.5 per cent of residents born there. In Box Hill, this figure is 27.6 per cent. The number of residents born in Asia is increasing in Whitehorse. This not only reflects broader immigration trends, but is also in part due to our growing international student population. International students attend Box Hill Institute of TAFE, Deakin University and some local high schools.

Reflecting this, Mandarin and Cantonese are the most commonly spoken languages other than English at home. This is followed by Greek, Italian and Vietnamese.

In the 2016 Census, 360 people or approximately 0.2 per cent identified themselves as Indigenous and living in Whitehorse. This is less than the average for Victoria (0.8 per cent) and Australia (2.8 per cent). Though a small population in relative terms, this group has a long history on this land, even in a contemporary sense. Whitehorse was home to a number of boys homes that housed members of the stolen generation who were removed from their families.

In terms of housing, 31 per cent of households have a mortgage which is less than the Greater Melbourne average of 34 per cent. 27 per cent of households rent.

For more detailed information, phone Council's Community Development Department on 9262 6333 or view the City of Whitehorse's Community ProfileAtlas and Population Forecast.

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City of Whitehorse Economy

A snapshot of the City of Whitehorse economy reveals:

  • A $7.2 billion economy that is strategically integrated within the wider regional economy (refer to Value Added table)
  • Approximately 61,000 jobs supported by a large proportion of the resident workforce
  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register (ABSBR) lists trading businesses with active Australian Business Numbers (ABN) in Whitehorse at 14,554 (2011)*. It is estimated that there are around 9000 businesses based in Whitehorse related to a premise/location.

Further information on the Whitehorse economy can be found by viewing the online economic profile.

Further information on Box Hill Central Activities Area can be found by viewing the online economic profile.

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Our History

The City of Whitehorse was proclaimed in December 1994, following the amalgamation of the former cities of Box Hill and Nunawading. The birth of the City reunited the suburbs which formed the original Shire of Nunawading more than 100 years ago. The municipality derives its namesake and logo from a white horse dating back to the 1850s, when a white horse statue adorned the front entrance of the City’s first hotel and two-storey building. Today, a memorial stands on the former site of the hotel and the white horse symbolises the City’s identity. 

The City is also recognised as the home of the arts, stemming from its relationship with Box Hill as the original site of the Artists Camp. In 1885, artists established the first of their camps at Box Hill, and while the camp only lasted three years, some of the artists, including Frederick McCubbin, returned to the area often. The City has an impressive art collection containing a total of nine works by members of the Box Hill Artists Camp, including works by McCubbin, Roberts and Streeton.

The Wurundjeri-Balluk Tribe are the traditional custodians of the land on which the City of Whitehorse is located. They have been the traditional custodians for 40,000 years. The traditional language to the tribe is Woi Wurrung and the tribe is now known as the Wurundjeri, being one of five tribes that make up the Kulin nation. The Wurundjeri are a deeply spiritual people and honour the creator spirit, Bunjil the Eaglehawk. Historically, the tribe would camp along the banks of the many creeks that flow through the City and named parts of the local area Namenarren or Nunawading.

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Our Logo

The City’s logo is modelled on the knight, which is one of the most powerful and flexible pieces in the game of chess. The significance of the white horse emanates from the historical and mythological representation of strength, courage and fertility. The symbol of the white horse in celtic mythology comes from the Goddess Epona (Gaul), Macha (Eire) and Rhiannon (Britain), each a guardian of good fortune ‘for monarch and tribe’. In astrology the white horse characterises freedom, strength and growth.

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Our Staff

Council values its staff and the contribution they make to the organisation and the wider community. As at 30 June 2017, there were 706.40 equivalent full-time positions. Whitehorse has a high percentage of staff who live locally with approximately 38 per cent of the workforce (500 staff members) living in the municipality.

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Our Vision

We aspire to be a healthy, vibrant, prosperous and sustainable community supported by strong leadership and community partnerships.  

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Our Mission

Whitehorse City Council, working in partnership with the community to develop and grow our municipality through good governance, proactive strategic planning and advocacy, efficient, responsive services and quality infrastructure. 

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Our Values

In pursuing our goals, Whitehorse City Council believes and is committed to the following values:

  • Consultation and communication: Ensuring that members of our community are both sufficiently informed and able to contribute to Council's decision-making process.
  • Democracy and leadership: Recognising and valuing community participation in Council's decision making as well as Council's role in providing leadership to the community. 
  • Equity and social justice: Respecting and celebrating our social diversity to promote an inclusive community. 
  • Integrity: Making decisions and acting in ways that reflect our values. 
  • Openness and accountability: Being transparent in its decision-making, Council welcomes public scrutiny and community feedback. 
  • Sustainability: Making decisions about social, economic, built and natural environments that will benefit both present and future generations. 
  • Wellbeing: Commitment to supporting the community in all areas of health and wellbeing.

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Services and Facilities

Council provides more than 100 high quality services and facilities across a range of areas including home and community care; sustainability; waste and recycling; health and family; leisure facilities; maintenance of sports fields, parks and gardens; infrastructure (operations centre and Whitehorse Recycling and Waste Centre); engineering (planning of roads, drains and streetlights); maintenance of footpaths, drains and roads; arts and culture; planning and building; traffic and community laws; libraries; community development; business and economic development.

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Whitehorse is characterised by quiet tree-lined residential streets; an abundance of parks, gardens and natural bushland reserves; bustling shopping centres, a diverse range of arts and cultural opportunities; and sports and leisure facilities.

The Whitehorse community has access to an extensive public transport system with trains, trams and buses serving the area. Whitehorse boasts some of the region's leading educational, medical and leisure facilities and is home to the largest high technology precinct in eastern Melbourne, placing it at the cutting edge of the telecommunications, multimedia and information technology industry.

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Local Attractions

Whitehorse has many attractions for its residents and visitors to discover and experience including: 

  • Box Hill Town Hall is a vibrant hub for Whitehorse community groups and includes an accredited art space to display Council's comprehensive art collection and a convenient meeting place for local businesses.
  • The Whitehorse Centre, the municipality's premier arts and cultural centre, attracts thousands of theatre lovers each year. The Whitehorse Professional Theatre and Music Season showcases some of the best professional theatre from around the country.
  • Schwerkolt Cottage and Museum Complex in Mitcham is a heritage-listed pioneer's stone cottage in a garden setting surrounded by 2.25 hectares of bushland. This popular attraction is open to the community on weekends.
  • The Box Hill Community Arts Centre is an artistic and cultural hub and home to a wide variety of local arts and community groups. The centre offers art and craft classes, an exhibition space, art shop and community meeting space.
  • Blackburn Lake Sanctuary is one of the area's most important environmental assets and is regarded as one of the most important bird refuges in metropolitan Melbourne.
  • Aqualink Nunawading and Aqualink Box Hill are state-of-the-art leisure facilities that attract thousands of people each week.
  • An outstanding range of community events and festivals, including Australia Day celebrations, the annual Spring Festival, Summer Music Series and Carols by Candlelight.

Sister City Relationship with Matsudo

The City of Whitehorse has a sister city relationship with Matsudo, a Japanese city on the outskirts of Tokyo. The relationship was developed by the former City of Box Hill in 1971 and continued by the City of Whitehorse in 1994, when local government in Victoria amalgamated.

The two cities participate in an active exchange program for young people, which strengthens cultural understanding and promotes friendly relations. The relationship also promotes economic development opportunities between the two countries.

The City of Matsudo has a population of 461,000 and is home to a large number of foreign residents. The City of Whitehorse is home to a growing Asian residency and, with Australia generally, is focused on consolidating links with its Asian neighbours. 

Shaoxing Friendship Exchange Agreement

Council and Shaoxing City have a Memorandum of Friendship and Understanding based on fostering international liaisons and welcoming the exchange of information and personal visits.

Suburban Heartland – A History of Whitehorse

Written by historian Lesley Alves Suburban Heartland incorporates aspects of the previously published histories of Box Hill and Nunawading and updates them with local history from the 1970s to the present. The book contains more than 320 pages of fascinating stories and colourful images drawn from public and private collections.  Suburban Heartland - A History of Whitehorse

Members of the Whitehorse community contributed their personal memorabilia and stories to fill the book with anecdotes, information and archival material that explores the people, places and events that shaped our community for more than 150 years.

Suburban Heartland costs $74 for the hardcover edition and $49 for the softcover version. Copies of the publication can be purchased during business hours from  Council’s Service Centres at the Box Hill Town Hall, Forest Hill Chase Shopping Centre and Whitehorse Civic Centre in Nunawading.

For more information, phone Council’s Cultural Facilities and Programs Team Leader Shayne Price on 9262 6393.

Whitehorse in Yukon, Canada

People searching for Whitehorse City Council online may occasionally stumble across its namesake in Yukon, Canada. Yukon is the westernmost and smallest of Canada's three territories. The sparsely populated territory has an Arctic and sub-arctic climate and abounds with snow-melt lakes and perennial snow-capped mountains. It borders the US state of Alaska to the west, the Northwest Territories to the east and British Columbia to the south.

The territory's capital is Whitehorse, apparently named after the White Horse Rapids, which were said to look like the mane of a white horse. Whitehorse is a city under Yukon municipal legislation, and is governed by the Whitehorse City Council, a council of six councillors and one mayor, elected every three years by eligible Canadian citizens of age 18 or older who reside within city limits.

Find out about the differences and similarities of the two cities by visiting the Canadian Whitehorse City Council website.