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about us

The Regional Wellbeing Survey was established to (i) improve our understanding of the wellbeing, liveability and resilience of communities across Australia, and (ii) to help organisations across Australia have access to the data they need to help them support and grow quality of life across the country.

We have two goals:
— improving understanding; and
 helping organisations across Australia access the data they need.

OUR GOALS

 

Our first goal — improving understanding — is achieved in two ways.

First, each year we conduct our annual ‘Regional Wellbeing Survey’, which asks thousands of people across Australia to tell us about quality of life in their communities and their households. This lets us collect data that is needed to understand wellbeing, liveability and resilience, but which isn’t available elsewhere. In other words, we use the Regional Wellbeing Survey to fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle when it comes to being able to shine a light on how wellbeing, resilience and liveability are changing across Australia. We also conduct other more specific surveys through the year to help examine particular aspects of wellbeing.

Second, we analyse data from both our own surveys, and from other data sources available in Australia, to help organisations across Australia understand changes in wellbeing, resilience and liveability.

 

For example, in 2019, the Panel for the Independent Assessment of Social and Economic Conditions in the Murray-Darling Basin asked us to help them understand which communities in the Murray-Darling Basin were ‘thriving, surviving or declining’. In our report, we drew on data from a range of sources, including the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, to analyse how communities across the Basin compared to the rest of Australian in terms of things such as their population growth, economic diversity, and health. Data from the Regional Wellbeing Survey were used to analyse how residents in the Basin rate their quality of access to different types of services and infrastructure, how friendly and connected their find their communities, and how safe they feel in their communities, amongst other things. Being able to combine data from the Regional Wellbeing Survey with information from other sources let us provide a much more comprehensive picture of quality of life than would have been possible before we began the Regional Wellbeing Survey in 2013. Amongst other things, we were able to show that communities in the Basin are well connected socially — but are often lagging behind other parts of regional Australia in terms of access to key types of services such as mobile phone reception and reliable internet connection.

 

 

Our second goal — helping organisations across Australia access the data they need — is achieved in a number of ways:

  • We make data tables available each year that provide results from the Regional Wellbeing Survey for every region of Australia where we have enough responses
  • We produce reports, including reports conducted specifically for individual organisations, and more general reports on key issues
  • We give seminars and webinars – in 2020, for example, we were part of a series of webinars run by the Australian Red Cross on wellbeing and drought.
  • Researchers across Australia can apply to use the Regional Wellbeing Survey dataset for their own analyses — find out the process and what is needed to fulfil our confidentiality and privacy requirements here.

 

 

 

 

MEET

the team

The Regional Wellbeing Survey is run by a core team of researchers at the University of Canberra – find out about us below! We work in collaboration with many other research teams across Australia.

Jacki Schirmer

Researcher

Jacki leads the Regional Wellbeing Survey team at the University of Canberra. Her research focuses on understanding how to support wellbeing and resilience of people and communities across Australia in ways that also support the health of the environment. She focuses in particular on understanding how to support communities experiencing the impacts of extreme climatic events and changes in industries such as agriculture, fishing and forestry.

Jacki was born in Portland, Victoria and has lived in Melbourne, Tumut and Canberra. She spent much of her childhood living on a boarding school campus her parents worked at, where she learned a lot from the diverse students who came from all parts of rural Australia, and spent time on her relative’s farms during summers. After an initial enthusiasm for economics, she realised she had a passion for working to address challenging land, water and environmental management issues in ways that also support the wellbeing of the people and communities who depend on our natural resources. That led her to working on studies that aim to build resilience and wellbeing in communities experiencing often rapid change in rural industries and high climatic variability.

Mel Mylek

Researcher

Mel’s area of interest is in the social dimensions of natural resource management, and the wellbeing of people living and working in natural settings across rural and regional Australia.

Mel was born in Tumut NSW, and grew up in Talbingo where her father worked on the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme. While Mel moved to Canberra as a child, the Talbingo home is still in the family, and she still calls the Snowy Mountains region of NSW home. Her connection to the region motivated her passion for nature and natural resource management, and so she studied Forestry at the Australian National University. One sentence she heard in her first year ‘Australia’s Forests 101’ course stuck: “Forestry is about people, not trees”. This sentence inspired Mel to pursue a research career focussing on the social aspects of natural resource management, and is completing her doctorate studies exploring social acceptability of fuel management used to reduce bushfire risk.

Helena Clayton

Researcher

Helena joined the Regional Wellbeing Survey team in 2017. She has varied research interests that include understanding the role of socially based motivations that underpin people’s natural resource management decisions, and the social dimensions that affect the wellbeing of people living and working across rural and regional Australia.

Helena grew up in rural NSW and the Canberra region, where her family was involved in farming and a range of other small businesses. During her high school years, Helena was actively involved in helping with the family businesses and this, combined with her connection to rural landscapes and farming, motivated her to pursue a career in applied economics.

She completed her undergraduate studies in agricultural and resource economics at the University of New England and went on to complete a PhD in this field at the University of Western Australia. This training has provided the foundation for her research career working in close collaboration with stakeholders — and in interdisciplinary teams — with economists, social scientists, public health experts, and ecologists.

Kimberley Brown

Researcher

Kimberly joined the Regional Wellbeing Survey Team in 2015 after a 15-year career in rural health promotion. Being from a public health background, she has always been a firm believer that “prevention is better than cure” and has particular interest in social determinants of health.

Kimberly joined the Regional Wellbeing Team to pursue her PhD, exploring the social and wellbeing benefits of regenerative farming. This interest was sparked by a desire to demonstrate the positive impact sectors outside health — such as the Natural Resource Management sector — can have in promoting farmer wellbeing. Kimberly also works as a part-time researcher at the Australian National University.

Growing up in central Queensland, Kimberly has a love for regional Australia — especially those regions with warmer climates! She has an  undergraduate degree in health from Central Queensland University.

After graduating, Kimberly did what many country kids do — moved to Sydney. This not only significantly reduced her travel time to music concerts, but also allowed her to complete her post-graduate studies in public health at University of NSW.

Kimberly now lives with her young family in Queanbeyan, near the ACT border and when the weather isn’t too cold, she loves getting out bushwalking and exploring the region with her family.

Dominic Peel

Researcher

Dominic is a researcher with the Regional Wellbeing Survey team at the University of Canberra.

Dominic has over seven years of research experience in the Australian university sector, primarily looking at wellbeing and how to improve it. His research focusses on wellbeing in the rural context and aims to inform work in a range of areas such that wellbeing is maintained and improved, especially during challenging times.

After attending university in New Zealand, he returned to Australia to complete his PhD studies in Canberra, where he now resides.

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