Indicator Rationale

An indicator is a summary statistic for a geographic area like a Local Government Area, suburb or neighbourhood and highlight important social, economic or environmental issues linked to liveability. Indicators are designed as easy to understand information that has been summarised from more complex and detailed data, measuring and monitoring change over time. All liveability indicators included in the Australian Urban Observatory are linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and a global call for action towards peace, prosperity and sustainability for people and the planet.

The economic, social, environmental and health benefits of urban liveability are now recognised by all levels of government, both in Australia and globally. Liveable communities are safe, socially cohesive, inclusive and environmentally sustainable. They have affordable housing linked via public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure, to employment,  education, shops and services, public open space and social, cultural and recreational facilities.

Relevant Sustainable Development Goals


Liveability Index


The Liveability Index is a composite score based on measures related to aspects of liveability including Social Infrastructure, Walkability, Public Transport, Public Open Space, Housing Affordability, and Local Employment [1].

The 13 measures which comprise the liveability index are: street connectivity; dwelling density; access to community, culture and leisure destinations; access to childcare services; access to public schools; access to health services; access to sport and recreation facilities; access to fresh food; access to convenience stores; access to regular public transport; access to large public open space; low housing affordability stress; and local employment opportunities.

The general method for calculating the liveability index has been previously published (see references below). The current version of the liveability index includes an expanded set of measures, and has been calculated for the 21 Australian cities included in the Australian Urban Observatory for 2018. An updated Liveability Index for 2021 will be released in early 2023 following the full release of 2021 Census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.


Arundel J, Lowe M, Hooper P, Roberts R, Rozek J, Higgs C, Giles-Corti B. (2017) Creating liveable cities in Australia: Mapping urban policy implementation and evidence-based national liveability indicators. Centre for Urban Research (CUR). RMIT University.

Badland H, Whitzman C, Lowe L, Davern M, Aye L, Butterworth I, Hes D, Giles-Corti B. (2014). Urban liveability: Emerging lessons from Australia for exploring the potential for indicators to measure the social determinants of health. Social Science & Medicine. 111: p. 64-73

Higgs C, Badland H, Simons K, Knibbs LD, Giles-Corti B. (2019). The Urban Liveability Index: developing a policy-relevant urban liveability composite measure and evaluating associations with transport mode choice. International Journal of Health Geographics. 18(1):14

Lowe M, Arundel J, Hooper P, Rozek J, Higgs C, Roberts R, Giles-Corti B. (2020) Liveability aspirations and realities: Implementation of urban policies designed to create healthy cities in Australia. Social Science & Medicine. Vol 245.