Understanding, measuring and strengthening rural and regional liveability

Understanding, measuring and strengthening rural and regional liveability

The Victorian liveability policy research program is extending its focus to explore liveability in regional cities and rural shires.

The program’s Liveability Index will be the world’s first index designed specifically to inform urban development that strengthens community wellbeing, but how well does the definition of liveability and indicator set serve rural and regional cities and communities?

The Victorian liveability policy research program is led by the Healthy Liveable Cities Group at the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT University in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The Group’s definition of liveability, which is included in the Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2015-2019 and has informed Plan Melbourne, describes a neighbourhood that is:

safe, attractive, socially cohesive and inclusive, and environmentally sustainable with affordable housing, access to employment, education, local shops, health and community services, leisure and cultural opportunities and public open space linked by convenient public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure.

The program is currently exploring how the urban liveability indicators can be adapted for use beyond Melbourne. DHHS East Division has facilitated the involvement of regional cities and rural shires to the program which include Benalla, Shepparton, Towong and Indigo. Discussions are also underway with Mitchell Shire — one of Melbourne’s 10 rapidly-growing Interface Councils that form a ring around metropolitan Melbourne.

This program provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to:

  • Build a realistic understanding of the challenges confronting rural and regional liveability;
  • Identify opportunities to strengthen liveability in particular places and for particular populations (particularly older people, given their higher proportion in rural communities) and liveability domains (e.g. employment).

This Liveability work was showcased at the 14th International Conference on Urban Health in Portugal in September 2017, and is informing the five-year, national NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Healthy, Liveable Communities - who will host a two-day conference in Melbourne on October 19 – 20.

The Melbourne conference will showcase the latest research on the key elements of liveable cities and consider how evidence can be used to improve policy and practice, bringing together academics, policy-makers and practitioners working to create better cities.

Register for Designing Healthy Liveable Cities Melbourne, October 19-20.

For more information on the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Healthy Liveable Communities see the website.

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