Indicator Rationale

A liveable, vibrant community requires a sufficient density of population to support local shops, jobs, public transport and other infrastructure. Having these amenities locally encourages people to walk and cycle, and discourages driving. Further, public transport is more viable in areas with higher population densities.

Providing destinations and services within walking distance is less viable in sprawling suburbs with low dwelling densities. People living in low-density neighbourhoods with few local destinations are less likely to walk and more likely to drive.

Relevant Sustainable Development Goals


  • Dwelling density


A dwelling is a structure which is habitable and intended to have people live in it. Dwellings include houses, motels, flats, caravans, prisons, tents, humpies and houseboats. (ABS 2016). The 2016 Census dwelling counts by Mesh Block were downloaded from the ABS and linked to the Mesh Block digital boundaries using the Mesh Block code. Counts include all dwellings whether occupied or not.

Dwelling density was calculated as the total number of dwellings located in 2016 ABS Mesh Blocks intersecting each participants’ local walkable neighbourhood divided by the neighbourhood size in hectares.


Forsyth A, Oakes J, Schmitz K, Hearst M. (2007). Does residential density increase walking and other physical activity? Urban Studies. 44:679–97

Giles-Corti B, Ryan K, Foster S. (2012). Increasing Density in Australia: Maximising the Health Benefits and Minimising Harm. Perth, Western Australia: National Heart Foundation of Australia

Glazier RH, Creatore MI, Weyman JT, Fazli G, Matheson FI, Gozdyra P, Moineddin R, Shriqui VK, Booth GL. (2014). Density, destinations or both? A comparison of measures of walkability in relation to transportation behaviors, obesity and diabetes in Toronto, Canada. Plos One. 9(1):9