in the news

Our wellbeing findings in the news: Read about how our research is informing public opinion and debate.


202220212020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015


Canberra is the happiest capital of Australia

The Regional Wellbeing Team’s Living well in the ACT region survey finds Canberra has the nation’s highest average income, some of the shortest commuting times and good access to services and green spaces, and its citizens are happier than other city dwellers across Australia.

However, not everyone in Canberra is equally enjoying it’s benefits. A decline in overall livability was greatest among young people, carers, renters, people living in units and apartments, and new arrivals to the city. These groups were particularly hard hit by the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, where social isolation and economic pressures took their toll. For the full report, click here.

You can find the media articles at the links below.

The Guardian, 4 August 2022

The Canberra Times, 4 August 2022

RiotACT, 7 August 2022


Examining wellbeing across Canberra - Vital Signs 2021 report

The Regional Wellbeing Team is proud that data from the Living well in the ACT region survey is helping to better understand what is going well and less well for the quality of life of people living in the ACT, as the 2021 Canberra Vital Signs report is released.

Canberrans can celebrate a high sense of pride in First Nations cultures and high participation rates in community events and activities. However mental health declined between 2019 and 2020, and there was an increase in the number of adults reporting high rates of distress. 

 You can find the full report at the link below. 

Canberra VitalSigns 2021, 6 November 2021

Making wellbeing an industry priority

There is growing recognition globally that sustainable, responsible agricultural industries need to monitor and report on their social outcomes, in additional to the more traditional focus on environmental and economic outcomes.

The integration of social and wellbeing considerations into the Australian cotton industry’s sustainability targets is identified in the CRDC’s Strategic Plan. As part of its commitment to the Strategic Plan, CRDC engaged the University of Canberra’s (UC) Regional Wellbeing Survey team to undertake research to develop a framework for monitoring wellbeing for the Australian cotton industry. The project began in 2019 and will run until June 2022.

Spotlight Autumn 2021, p20


How is quality of life changing for Canberrans following 2020 challenges?

These are both links to a wellbeing survey the team conducted in 2020 in the ACT – the Living Well in the ACT survey. The survey asked people living in the ACT and surrounding NSW about their wellbeing and the challenges posed by the summer bushfires, and now COVID-19.

Mirage news



Looking at Landcare — The measures of change

Report on the Farmers for Climate Action conference in Orange, NSW, where Jacki Schirmer presented on the impacts of climate change and drought for regional wellbeing and resilience.

Forbes Advocate | Marg Applebee

Community organisation hosts climate uncertainty forum

Report on the Resilient Farming Communities Planning for Climate Uncertainty’ forum held in Boorowa, where Jacki Schirmer presented on strategies to support social wellbeing of rural communities.

The Land | Stephen Burns


Research reveals wood promotes worker wellbeing

There was wide-ranging interest in our research conducted in collaboration with Pollinate which explored the connection between wellbeing of indoor workers and nature-connection within office environments. The use of wood in office design was found to have a significant effect on wellbeing, which was greatest when used in combination with other natural elements such as plants, water features and natural light.

This, and the next three tabs relate to this research.

Spacely News | Erin Delahunty

New Research: Wood a key plant in the business case for brining nature into the office Australasian Timber

Australia: benefit of wood at work

Wood and wellbeing in the workplace

Website to improve mental health of farmers prepares for launch

This is an article about the launch of the ifarmwell which is a program to provide online support to farmers to cope with stress and improve wellbeing. The article references 2014 Regional Wellbeing Survey found that almost 50 per cent of Australian farmers had a mild or worse mental disorder, compared with 26 per cent of the general rural population.

The Lead | Andrew Spence

Our concern about the drought isn’t fair dinkum

This article references the Conversation article written by the Regional Wellbeing team, which argued for the need for longer-term approach to drought policy.

The Sydney Morning Herald | Ross Gittins

Australia’s crippling drought crisis: Overcoming past mistakes to save ourselves for the future

This article references our research on differences in drought resilience across farmer demographic characteristics, such as age and gender.  

News.com.au | Stephanie Bedo


Love our lakes: Community groups welcome government education program to save our waterways

This article is about community response to the ACT Governments’ new education program on the quality of waterways in and around Canberra which references our research on the views and values of Canberra residents around water quality and their awareness and behaviour around preventing pollution of urban stormwater.

The Canberra Times | Clare Sibthorpe and Finbar O’Mallon


Farmers quitting in droves — and not happy about going

This article is based on research based on our 2014 Regional Wellbeing Survey and farmer interviews exploring factors affecting wellbeing and farmer exit from the sector.

The Land | Andrew Marshall

Report shows some farmers are struggling

This article is based on findings from the 2014 Regional Wellbeing Survey, exploring the variability in wellbeing of farmers across different areas of Australia and between farmers and non-farmers.

Country News

Almost half of regional Australians report internet is 'very poor', 'inadequate': University of Canberra survey

This article (and the next) investigate the implications of the disparity in digital connection across Australia, referencing our Regional Wellbeing Survey which identified that almost half of Australians living outside the major cities rated their internet as very poor, and that this was a significant impediment in farmer adoption of new technology.

ABC Rural | Anna Vidot

Australia’s digital divide is leaving the rural community behind

The Weekly Times | Gim Gall


Capital region farmers prepare for hot summer and possibility of future drought

This article is on the level of drought preparedness of capital regional farmers, referencing the 2014 Regional Wellbeing Survey with a focus on findings on the adoption of regenerative farming as a drought management strategy.

ABC NewsAdrienne Francis

Regional Wellbeing low in drought areas

This is an article about the impact of drought on regional wellbeing and is based on findings from the 2014 Regional Wellbeing Survey which identified the regions reporting the poorest level of wellbeing are those experiencing the effects of drought.

Western Magazine

Survey finds prolonged drought, mining downturn affecting regional wellbeing

This is an article is based on findings from the 2014 Regional Wellbeing Survey. It is focused on reporting our findings on wellbeing in the Orana region which covers covers the central and north western sectors of New South Wales. The article reports findings our survey findings which found the Orana region to have one of the lowest wellbeing ratings in Australia.

Wellington Times

Milkers a dairy happy bunch, University of Canberra report finds

This article is on wellbeing across different agricultural sectors with a focus on dairy farmers in Australia. It is based on an interview with dairy farmers in Victoria and references findings from 2014 Regional Wellbeing Survey, which identified dairy farmers to have the highest level of wellbeing in Australia compared to other agricultural industries.

The Weekly Times | Sarah Hudson


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:



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

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.



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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