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REPORT

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Living well in the ACT region

The University of Canberra is the University of, in and for Canberra. The Regional Wellbeing Survey team do a range of work in the Canberra region to help ensure our wellbeing research can inform quality of life in the Australian Capital Territory and surrounding regions. There’s been

ACT Wellbeing Framework

In 2019, the ACT Government announced that it would develop a Wellbeing Framework for the Australian Capital Territory. During 2019 and 2020, the ACT Government conducted a range of consultation processes as part of developing a proposed set of indicators to be used to measure wellbeing in the ACT. In doing so, this jurisdiction joined the growing number of countries and regions internationally who are seeking to measure progress by examining whether their citizens have a good quality of life, as well as measuring economic growth.

University of Canberra researchers Jacki Schirmer and Rob Tanton were pleased to contribute to the consultation process, discussing key learnings from the development of wellbeing frameworks around the world as part of multi-stakeholder workshops. They also participated in a range of discussions and providing expert advice on the development and design of indicators. In March 2020, the ACT Government released the ACT Wellbeing Framework, and we are proud that University of Canberra researchers were able to contribute to its development.

Living well in the ACT Region survey

2019 – our first survey

In 2019, the Medical Research Future Fund funded the ‘Environmental and social determinants of health in the Australian Capital Territory’ project, led by Professor Rachel Davey at the University of Canberra. Part of this project involves conducting a survey examining the determinants of health and wellbeing in the ACT region. This funding enabled us to develop and launch the Living well in the ACT region survey in 2019. The Living well survey aims to track how wellbeing, and the key environmental and social factors that influence wellbeing, change over time in the ACT region. It includes a range of measures, including many that form part of the Regional Wellbeing Survey, and others that have been designed more specifically for their relevance to the unique ACT region.

The Living well survey was in early stages of development as the ACT Government began development of its ACT Wellbeing Framework. This provided a useful opportunity to ensure that the Living well survey could measure different aspects of wellbeing that were emerging as being important to Canberrans in the consultation processes being undertaken as part of developing the Framework. We worked with a range of groups across the ACT to identify what the survey should measure, with a goal of ensuring the data collected could inform development and, subsequently, reporting on wellbeing of people living in the ACT. Data were first collected in November 2019, and initially it was intended that a second survey only occur in late 2021 or early 2022.

2020 — our second survey, examining ‘Living well in the ACT region in challenging times’

The first Living well in the ACT Region survey finished collecting data on the first days in which the ACT region was blanketed in bushfire smoke in late 2020. This meant we had (without realising it) collected data that provided a picture of quality of life just before the ACT was impacted by bushfires over the summer of 2019-20, a major hailstorm causing widespread damage in January 2020, followed by COVID-19.

As the early months of 2020 passed, it became apparent that these events were likely to be impacting the wellbeing of ACT residents – and that we could play a role by finding out who was experiencing more and fewer impacts. We conducted a second survey in April-May 2020, a time when ACT residents were homeschooling children and encouraged to only leave their homes for essential purposes.

Findings

Initial findings from our 2019 and 2020 surveys will be released in September 2020 ‚ keep checking back here for more.

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