AFFORDABLE housing and adequate public transport are more important than simply lifting raw productivity levels, says Dr Cassandra Goldie.
The Australian Council of Social Service chief executive said it was essential Prime Minister Julia Gillard found common ground between growing the economy and ensuring people are not left behind during the mining boom.
Dr Goldie said reforms, such as the government's focus on deregulation for the business sector, must ensure communities are not forgotten.
"In order to take advantage of the opportunities a changing international economy presents to us, we need flexible workplaces and an adaptive and mobile workforce," she said.
"To keep the labour force and economy growing when the population is aging, we need to ensure that we renew the skills of mature age workers, women returning to paid work, and unemployed people have the opportunity to renew their skills and we need workplaces that are inclusive, and flexible to diverse needs, including balancing paid work and family and caring responsibilities.
"Improved productivity should not be reduced to motions of working just harder and faster.
"Workers moving to places where there are labour shortages also need affordable housing and adequate public transport. For example, many workers will be reluctant to move to mining towns unless they can live with or near their families.
"There is much more we need to do to include a great many people in Australia who are currently locked out of the workforce."
Dr Goldie, who is attending the Prime Minister's economic forum in Brisbane, also said there were some specific initiatives to help improve social outcomes while improving the economy.ACOSS initiatives
Low skilled workers and unemployed people need training that's linked to job opportunities and career progression.
Long term unemployed people need more help to regain employment than the interview every two months and average of $500 for training courses they currently receive
Women combining paid work and care need affordable child care and flexible working hours over which they have some control.
Mature age workers need their skills updated and preventive health care and disability services will be increasingly important tools to maintain productivity in the workplace.