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.


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 and third surveys, 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. A follow up survey was then conducted in November 2020.

2021 — wellbeing during lockdown

During the later half of 2021, ACT residents have been faced with the longest lockdown period experienced in the Territory so far. Our 2021 survey, conducted during September and October 2021, focusses on wellbeing, how residents are doing during lockdown, and quality of life in the ACT region more generally. The report can be found here.

2022 — Checking in

The short ‘Living well in the ACT’ check-in survey is now open. Click here to do the survey.


Reports from the study are now available! Click here (or click on ‘findings’ at the top of the page, and then ‘our reports’) to access the reports.


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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