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How ‘liveable’ is Australia? Investing in what’s important to advance quality of life - featured image
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How ‘liveable’ is Australia? Investing in what’s important to advance quality of life

How liveable is Australia?

In the 2023 National Liveability Survey Australia scored an Overall Liveability Index (OLI) of 62.6 out of 100.

Australia Overall Liveability Index

This was consistent with the 2022 result (62.5).

The OLI is calculated using two inputs:

  • Community Values = what attributes respondents believe make somewhere a good place to live.
  • Community Experiences = how well respondents feel the attributes are being delivered/experienced in their local community.

There are 16 liveability attributes used to measure values and experiences.

These include factors like

  • “Feeling safe“,
  • “Social cohesion“,
  • “Good job prospects“,
  • “Making your way to and from services such as healthcare, education and employment with relative ease"
  •  “High-quality health services” and more.

The liveability indices varied between and within metropolitan and regional areas.

Metropolitan liveability ranged from 53.1 in Darwin to 71.6 in Adelaide.

Regional and rural liveability landed between 51.5 in Regional NT and 67.6 in Western Victoria.

Does this mean Adelaide is a better place to live than Darwin?

And that Darwin is more liveable than Regional NT?

To a certain degree, yes.

But because the Index is calculated by multiplying ‘local community values’ with ‘local community experiences’, it reflects what is unique about a community at a point in time.

So while comparing one region against another is interesting, and provides us with a sense of relativity, it is not overly instructive and doesn’t unlock the true value of this approach.

The significance of the local area liveability indices is in revealing what a particular community believes needs to happen to advance their quality of life, where they live.

See which councils are using this approach to understand and advance the quality of life for their residents.

The balance of this article explores the community’s views on liveability in very large geographies – Australia overall, Metropolitan Australia, and Regional and rural Australia.

Crowd Of People On The Street.

Overall liveability in Australia

The most important factor influencing liveability for Australians was “Feeling safe”.

Local experiences of safety were also rated positively.

Likewise, Australians value “Access to the natural environment” as a key influence on their quality of life.

It had the highest experience rating across all the liveability attributes (7.7 out of a possible 10).

“Affordable decent housing” was the third most important liveability attribute for Australians.

However, it received the lowest experience rating across all the attributes.

This combination of very high value and very poor local area experiences tells us that the provision of “Affordable decent housing” represents the single biggest inhibitor to advancing quality of life across Australia.

The second article in this series will explore community views on housing and implications for decision-makers in more detail.

Overall liveability in Metropolitan Australia

Overall liveability in Metropolitan Australia (64.0) was slightly higher than the national average (62.6).

There was a clear message in the survey data that investment in transport infrastructure and public transport services will be critical to advancing living standards in metropolitan areas.

Investment in transport infrastructure enables people and goods to move around, contributing to:

  • Increased economic activity
  • Improved productivity
  • Jobs growth
  • Improved access to work, education and social opportunities
  • Reduced travel time, congestion, accidents and stress.

Combined, place-based efforts to improve local area experiences regarding:

  • A lack of road congestion“,
  • the provision of “Reliable and efficient public transport services” and
  • how residents feel about their ability to “Make their way to and from services such as healthcare, education and employment with relative ease” will, over time, improve the community’s views regarding their day-to-day mobility.

And this improves overall quality of life.

But the impact of improved transport infrastructure and services has an echo effect.

Efficient and accessible transport options are also crucial for the provision of “Affordable decent housing“.

These survey insights tell us that the provision of “Reliable and efficient public transport” is an absolute and relative strength of Inner City and Inner-Middle LGAs.

Public transport is important to these communities and is experienced relatively well in these areas.

Given this, it makes sense to look at how the nation’s patchwork of inner and middle suburban areas that have objectively strong transport infrastructure where service capacity can meet the needs of increased population volumes can be more easily considered for medium and high-density housing. 

Regional Property

Overall liveability in regional and rural Australia

Overall liveability in regional and rural regions (61.2) was slightly lower than the national average (62.6).

The provision of “High-quality health services” is key to improving the quality of life for Australians in regional and rural areas.

People living in rural and remote areas of Australia are typically older and have lower life expectancy and higher rates of disease and injury than those living in metropolitan regions.

And they report less positive experiences with accessing “High quality health services”.

Regional and rural areas face unique challenges in delivering health services, like:

  • Longer travel distances to specialist services
  • Lower levels of health literacy
  • Higher rates of risky health behaviours like smoking and alcohol abuse
  • Attracting and retaining qualified health practitioners.

Positive experiences of health and well-being impact people’s ability to take part in the economy and community.

This can restrict access to opportunities that lead to a higher quality of life.

In summary...

The results of the 2023 National Liveability Survey tell us what factors are important to advancing the quality of life of Australians.

Sustaining investments in community safety and access to our natural environment is crucial for maintaining standards of living.

But the provision of affordable, decent housing poses the biggest obstacle (and opportunity) to increasing Australia’s liveability.

For metropolitan areas, there is a collective need to invest in improved transport infrastructure and public transport.

But this needs to be done in consideration of how it will also boost access to “Affordable decent housing”.

Overall liveability in regional and rural regions (61.2) was slightly lower than the national average (62.6).

The provision of “High-quality health services” is key to improving the quality of life for Australians in regional and rural areas.

Editor's note: This article was published in .id Informed Decisions .You can read the original article here

About Dan is a social researcher with more than 10 years’ experience investigating community attitudes to and experiences of planning and development, transport infrastructure, public health and a bunch of other things. Visit .id Informed Decisions
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