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Canberra is a thriving and inclusive community that aims for everyone to share in the benefits of a good life. We are developing a set of Wellbeing Indicators that will measure the ACT's progress and guide future government decisions and investments.

During July and August, members of the new YourSay Community Panel told us the three most important factors for their wellbeing were:

  • health
  • good relationships with family, friends and others
  • work-life balance

Throughout July, we actively consulted with around 100 Canberra community organisations and advisory bodies, as our first key phase of engagement. These conversations took place through a series of roundtables to understand what matters to Canberrans when it comes to quality of life and the influences on our wellbeing.

This month, we will be launching the next phase of our community engagement. Please use the banner above to 'follow' the page to stay up to date with our wellbeing engagement activities.

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By any of the standard economic metrics, Canberra is performing well. We consistently have among the lowest unemployment rate and the highest average salaries. Our economy has grown faster than every other state or territory for a number of years and our population is growing as more people are attracted to our liveable city. These indicators matter, but they’re not the only things that matter. We want to measure the broader range of things that are important to you and your quality of life.

In partnership with the community, the ACT Government is in the process of developing a set of wellbeing indicators to monitor our progress across a broad range of areas that reflect the values of Canberrans and influence our quality of life. The indicators will help guide government decision-making and our priorities for future investments.

How wellbeing is measured around the world can differ. To be useful, a set of indicators need to be broad enough to encompass the various different facets of wellbeing, but specific enough that we can track progress and make policy or investment decisions using the insights gained.

The indicators will ensure we keep a focus on inclusion, so that the quality of life and wellbeing of all Canberrans grows as our city does.

Every element of your life can influence wellbeing, from health and housing to the environment we live in, as well as the strength of our communities and access to activities we enjoy.

Quality of life and feeling healthy and happy will mean different things to different people. That’s why we are asking you to have your say during the development of the indicators.

There are likely to be range of attributes that we, as a community, value and consider to be priorities when it comes to wellbeing. It will be these values that we collectively identify across Canberra that will guide the development of the ACT's wellbeing indicators.

During July and August, members of the new YourSay Community Panel told us the three most important factors for their wellbeing were:

  • health
  • good relationships with family, friends and others
  • work-life balance

Canberrans who completed the community panel survey rated their overall wellbeing at 7.18 on average (on a scale where 1 is dissatisfied and 10 is completely satisfied).

To inform our process, we are also listening to what Canberrans have already told us in previous consultation processes. There are many common themes that have been identified through previous consultations conducted by the ACT Government that relate to wellbeing. For example, Canberrans have told us that:


  • health services, including mental health support, alcohol and drug treatment services, and aged care are some of the most important areas of government service delivery
  • we need to continue to focus on prevention, early support, integration of supports and a whole of community and government collaborative approach to physical and mental health and wellbeing, suicide and self-harm prevention
  • it is important to recognise there is a strong relationship between marginalisation and social disadvantage and poorer health (including mental health) and wellbeing


  • parents’ clear and highest priority is that their children are happy, engaged and learning how to learn
  • there should be collaboration between and support between educators, students, and parents to meet individual student needs
  • diversity in the student population should be seen as the norm, and as a strength
  • the safety of all students on territory education campuses is an important area to focus attention


  • the government should continue to focus on public infrastructure, road projects and active travel considerations to continue to improve the amenity of our city
  • effective transport links are important to daily life for most Canberrans


  • climate change is a generational problem and will affect our future wellbeing
  • our natural environment and parks and reserves are highly valued, particularly their proximity and quality
  • it will be important to focus on improved waste processing and recycling services to help limit our impact on the environment as our city continues to grow

Economic Development & Diversification

  • the local business community plays an important role in partnership with government to deliver a thriving economy
  • as increase in gender equality and reduction in gender stereotype are critical to greater participation, equity and stronger outcomes in workplaces
  • inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through culturally appropriate engagement strategies are also key to greater participation and inclusion in our community

Supporting Families

  • housing and homelessness prevention, family services, support for disadvantaged children and people with disability, family violence prevention and social inclusion are key priorities for Canberrans
  • the wellbeing of children and young people needs focus, particularly the importance of social connections from the early years and their influence when life undergoes change

Canberra Community

  • there is clear association between individuals’ health and wellbeing with where and how they live
  • that trust underpins people’s willingness to access services in the ACT
  • the use of services can be impacted by a lack of social infrastructure such as transport
  • services that are designed to encourage inclusion and participation are more likely to receive uptake
  • Canberrans value human rights and an inclusive society where everyone is respected and treated fairly and equally, and where restorative approaches are encouraged
  • there is an interest in place-based city services and maintenance

Community Safety

  • we should continue to prioritise justice reinvestment, addressing the causes of crime and building communities not prisons, to make Canberra safer and reduce recidivism
  • addressing drug and alcohol abuse, as well as mental health issues, contributes to improved community safety
  • women should feel safe in their communities and homes, and there should be no tolerance for violence against women and children
  • it is important for victims of crime to be treated with respect, provided with information and have a voice in proceedings affecting them
  • we should focus on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community leadership, self-determination and culturally appropriate community led initiatives to address disadvantage and overrepresentation in the justice system
  • improved social cohesion and diversity is important to combat fears around violent extremism and terrorism

Land and Planning

  • having access to green spaces delivers benefits for individuals, the community and institutions and so this needs to be preserved
  • protecting and strengthening the unique character of a place should be an important consideration when exploring changes
  • access to shopping precincts; access to parks and amenities; safe and connected footpaths; maintained trees and shrubs; and maintained and connected roads are high priorities for making our suburbs and regions so liveable
  • environmental and sustainability practices should be key elements of our planning and development
  • we should strive for city renewal that provides welcoming, inclusive public and private spaces that value social connectedness, community health and wellbeing and connecting people with nature.
  • we need to ensure appropriate and adequate housing options are available for all Canberrans
  • as Australia’s greenest capital it is important that we continue to have effective bushfire preparedness and strategic planning.

We actively engaged around 100 Canberra community organisations and advisory bodies throughout July, as our first key phase of engagement.

These conversations took place through a series of roundtables to understand what matters to Canberrans when it comes to quality of life and the influences on our wellbeing. Find out what we heard through the reports below.

Roundtable 1: Listening Report

Roundtable 2: Listening Report

Roundtable 3: Listening Report

Roundtable 4: Listening Report

The feedback from all these roundtables, along with other community feedback, has informed the development of a draft wellbeing framework that we will be consulting further with the Canberra community on in the coming months.

There are many countries and jurisdictions around the world that are measuring wellbeing.

New Zealand, recently introduced it's Living Standards Framework based on the OECD How’s Life index.

How wellbeing is measured in other countries - Presentation by University of Canberra

This presentation was given at our stakeholder roundtables by Associate Professor Jacki Schirmer and Professor Rob Tanton of the University of Canberra in early July 2019. It outlines some definitions of wellbeing and the experience of frameworks from other jurisdictions.

Banner image: Damian Breach for VisitCanberra