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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 has recently completed 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.

HELP US IMPROVE QUALITY OF LIFE IN RURAL & REGIONAL AUSTRALIA

Join us this November at the Building Wellbeing into Policy and Action in Australia workshop, being held at the University of Canberra. At the workshop you will hear about the diversity of wellbeing initiatives currently happening in Australia across the government, not-for-profit and private sectors.

Organisations across Australia are increasingly embedding consideration of wellbeing outcomes in their decision making and investment processes. At the summit, you will hear examples of how this is being done by different governments, not-for-profit organisations and community groups, as well as in industries such as agriculture. Participants will discuss key opportunities, challenges and needs going forward in Australia, and identify priorities for future action.

Through the workshop, we aim to build a network of people interested in working together to continue building wellbeing into policy and action across Australia. All participants are encouraged to discuss opportunities to continue discussions and action beyond the workshop.

 

Register here for the workshop 

Participants can register to participate in person in Canberra, or online. You can register for one day or for the whole workshop. Follow the link below to register:

https://canberra.onestopsecure.com/canberra/onestopweb/VW6/booking?e=2022WS

 

Workshop program

The workshop includes a packed program – download the workshop program here

If you have any problems logging in online, please email wellbeingsummit@canberra.edu.au

 

Monday 21 November

9.30-10.00: Wellbeing in politics and policy: why do we need wellbeing-focused decision making?

Speakers in this session include Mike Salvaris and Geoff Woolcock from the Australian National Development Index, and speakers from the OECD.

10.00-10.30: International perspectives: lessons for building wellbeing into policy and action

Speaker in this session is Kate Scrivens, OECD Centre for Well-Being, Inclusion, Sustainability
and Equal Opportunity.

11.00-12.30: From measurement to action: lessons from international experience.

Hear from speakers including Bryan Smale (Canadian Index of Wellbeing), Rob Tanton with Jacki Schirmer (University of Canberra) and Cressida Gaukroger (lead author of the Centre for Policy Development’s recent report reviewing lessons from international experience for wellbeing initiatives in Australia).

1.30-3.20 Wellbeing into policy and action across Australia’s governments – Session 1

Speakers from the Australian, State and Territory governments, those in the university and private sector who are working with different jurisdictions, will talk about their work developing a wellbeing economy, wellbeing frameworks, and wellbeing-centric decision making. Speakers include Tim Ogden (Treasury), Peter Robinson (ACT Government), Helen Thomas (Wellbeing SA), and Mike Salvaris with Geoff Woolcock (Australian National Development Index).

3.40-5.00pm Wellbeing into policy and action for specific sectors and groups

Hear about how different groups are developing wellbeing-focused approaches to policy and action to support the wellbeing of groups including children and carers. Speakers include Joyce Cleary (Deakin University), Gemma Wood (Australian Youth Development Index, Numbers and People Synergy), and Kate Reynolds with Robert Gotts (National Student Wellbeing Project).

Discussion: Challenges and opportunities for building wellbeing into policy and action for children, carers, those with disability, and other specific groups.

5.00-6.00pm Social networking drinks

 

Tuesday 22 November

9.00-10.30: Sustainability, climate change, disasters and wellbeing

Hear about how we can develop Earth-centred wellbeing approaches, and maintain wellbeing through disasters, from speakers including Michelle Maloney (Australian Earth Laws Alliance and New Economy Network Australia), Julie Boulton (Monash University) and Rebecca Huntley (89 Degrees East).

Discussion: Sustainable wellbeing in a changing climate

11.00-1.00pm: From measurement to action: from data to action across Australia

Hear about the different groups who are measuring wellbeing across Australia using surveys and statistical data collections. Find out where you can access information, and help identify key needs going forward. Speakers include Mark Wooden (Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey), Ray Lovett (Australian National University), Kate Lycett (Deakin University) and Lauren Binns (ABS).

Discussion: Challenges and opportunities for data collection and measurement

1.30-3.30 Urban, regional, rural and remote – wellbeing from all regions

How do we build wellbeing into policy and action across Australia’s diverse regions? Hear from speakers including Jacki Schirmer (University of Canberra), Kim Houghton (Regional Australia Institute), Susi Tegen (National Rural Health Alliance) and the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation.

Discussion: Wellbeing into policy and action for all regions

3.50-5.10pm Wellbeing into policy and action for all: not-for-profit and community sector
experience

Hear about how not-for-profit and community groups are working to build wellbeing into policy and action, and the challenges and opportunities experienced. Speakers include Ben Latham (Victorian Council of Social Service), Julia Keady (X Factor Collective), Peter Gordon (Hands Across Canberra, Vital Signs initiative) and Andrew Yule (Jesuit Social Services).

6.30pm Dinner - Societal wellbeing: what's the economy got to do with it? Speaker Katherine Trebeck

 

Wednesday 23 November

9.00-11.00am Wellbeing into policy and action across Australia’s jurisdictions – Session 2

Speakers from the Australian, State and Territory governments, those in the university and private sector who are working with different jurisdictions, will talk about their work developing a wellbeing economy, wellbeing frameworks, and wellbeing-centric decision making. Speakers include Arthur Grimes (Chair of Wellbeing and Public Policy, Victoria University of Wellbeing), Sandro Demaio, (VicHealth), Richard Parsons (DPI NSW), Michael Gadiel (NSW Treasury) and Libby Lester (University of Tasmania).

Discussion: What are the best paths to building wellbeing into policy and action?

11.30-1.00pm Closing session: Identifying priorities for building wellbeing into policy and action and next steps

This session will include group discussion to identify the priorities and needs for building wellbeing into policy and action in Australia going forward.

 

Speakers

You will hear from inspiring speakers who will discuss the different approaches being used in Australia and internationally to build policy and decision making processes that best support societal wellbeing, from local to national scale.

Join us in person or virtually to hear from our expert speakers, including:

  • Katherine Trebeck, co-founder of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance and WEAll Scotland
  • Michelle Maloney, co-founder of the New Economy Network Australia and the Australian Earth Laws Alliance
  • Bryan Smale, Director of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing
  • Cressida Gaukroger of the Centre for Policy Development and lead author of the recent report Redefining progress: global lessons for an Australian approach to wellbeing
  • Arthur Grimes, Chair of Wellbeing and Public Policy, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Peter Robinson, discussing the ACT Wellbeing Framework
  • Mike Salvaris and Geoff Woolcock discussing the Australian National Development Index
  • Sandro DeMaio of VicHealth, discussing the recently launched Wellbeing Economy Toolkit and Wellbeing Economy website
  • Libby Lester, University of Tasmania, discussing The Tasmania Project and Good Life Initiative
  • Jacki Schirmer, leader of the Regional Wellbeing Survey, Carer Wellbeing Survey and Living Well in the ACT region survey

…and many more from organisations including The Treasury, NSW Government, Wellbeing SA, Regional Wellbeing Survey, and National Student Wellbeing Project.

Contact us

Have questions? Contact us at wellbeingsummit@canberra.edu.au.

 

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