What is our definition of liveability?

Our definition of liveability is based on an extensive review completed in 2012 with the ingredients understood as important influences of health. A liveable place is somewhere that is: safe, attractive, inclusive, and environmentally sustainable; with affordable and diverse types of housing, public open space, local shops, health and community services, leisure and cultural opportunities; with opportunities for employment and education all accessible by convenient public transport, walking and cycling.

What cities are included in the Australian Urban Observatory?

ACT Canberra
NSWAlbury-Wodonga, Newcastle-Maitland, Sydney, Wollongong
QLDBrisbane, Cairns, Gold Coast-Tweed Heads, Mackay, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, Townsville
TASHobart, Launceston
VICAlbury-Wodonga, Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Melbourne

These cities match the Australian Government National Cities Performance Framework, providing liveability data for Australia’s largest 21 cities, including the eight capital cities and 13 other major cities with a population of 80,000 or more. A list of our cities and indicators can be downloaded here.

What makes the Australian Urban Observatory so important?

The Observatory draws on over 10 years of policy-relevant research by Australia’s preeminent urban liveability researchers and located at RMIT University. It brings together the link between city design, policy and planning with health and wellbeing. The liveability indicators have been developed by a multidisciplinary team of academic researchers investigating connections between public health and urban planning by translating that research knowledge into easily understood information that informs policies and practices to create healthy and liveable communities.

Located within the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT University, development of the Observatory has been supported by Australian science and medical research funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) through the Centre of Research Excellence in Healthy Liveable Communities, the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub (CAUL) supported by the National Environmental Science Program, and the Australian Prevention Partnership Centre (TAPPC). 

What are the benefits of using the Australian Urban Observatory?

One location for urban liveability indicators providing access multiple data sources presented as indicators in maps for the 21 largest cities in Australia.

Save money and time on data sourcing and analysis where a variety of liveability indicators provide users with a clear understanding of the liveability of cities, where to invest their resources, future policy direction and how to create healthy and liveable places for all members of the community.

Simplicity of use with searching by location available for social, economic or environmental issues of concern. The Observatory provides access to specific and measurable liveability indicators, future opportunities for geospatial linkage to survey data and information on the research supporting these maps.

Why are there missing areas in the liveability maps?

The indicators in the Australian Urban Observatory have been measured for dwellings in urban areas of each city. Urban areas have been defined based on the urban classification used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The boundaries for each city are based on the ABS Greater Capital City Statistical Areas for 8 major capital cities, or Significant Urban Area boundaries for major regional cities. These definitions are found in the Australian Statistical Geography Standard for the Census year corresponding to the time point selected. Within these city boundaries, we only represent areas that are populated, and any areas where people do not live, such as parklands, military zones, industrial estates and commercial areas are excluded (through exclusion of Mesh Blocks located in Statistical Area 1 regions not included in the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas ratings, which exclude areas with low population counts).  

Will new liveability indicators be included in the future?

Additional liveability indicators will be included as the Observatory develops and increases in capacity with new indicator releases and the inclusion of additional time-series data for each indicator. All registered members and Funding Partners of the Observatory will be kept informed via social media updates and newsletters.

What about liveability in smaller regional centres and towns?

The Australian Urban Observatory currently provides liveability indicators for the 21 largest cities of Australia. However, additional research supported by the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub supported by the National Environmental Science Program has been investigating similarities and differences in regional liveability since 2017 using customised liveability assessments for areas. For further information on customised regional or metropolitan liveability assessments please contact info@auo.org.au.

Who are the partners of the Australian Urban Observatory?

  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) supported Centre of Excellence in Healthy, Liveable Communities

  • Clean Air and Urban Landscapes (CAUL) Hub of the National Environmental Science Program

  • NHMRC funded initiative of The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre (TAPPC) including partners of Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) and SA Health

  • Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN)

How to cite usage of material from the Australian Urban Observatory

Australian Urban Observatory, RMIT University, viewed <dd/mm/yyyy>, auo.org.au. DOI: 10.25956/5dcb85fa3bdfc.

How to cite the Australian Urban Observatory project

Davern, M., Both, A., Murray, K., Roberts, R., Norzahari., F. (2023). Liveability research creating real world impact: connecting urban planning and public health through the Australian Urban Observatory. Cities and Health. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/23748834.2023.2178091

Membership levels of the Australian Urban Observatory

  • LGA Funding Partner

  • State Funding Partner

  • National Funding Partner

For more details go to the Become a partner page.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals and why are they important to our liveability indicators?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States by General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/1 in September 2015. The aim of this resolution is a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030 while ensuring that no one is left behind.

Australia is one of the 193 member states that have signed up and agreed to this 2030 agenda and liveability indicators are important measures of progress. Over time we plan to expand the Observatory to include more indicators and time-series results for our cities.

Can I print a map from the AUO?

Yes. You can print a snapshot of the Observatory map with the selected information in PDF format by using the shortcut Ctrl+P, and changing the scale to Custom at the preferred % under More settings.