RMIT’s Creating Liveable Cities study focused on seven domains of liveability to promote the health and well-being of its inhabitants.
These domains were walkability, public transport, public open spaces, housing affordability, employment and the food and alcohol environments.
The study, based on five years of research, found that no Australian capital performed well across all seven and that there was a lot of evidence of geographic inequities with benefits not spread evenly.
The study found that outer suburban areas were less well served than inner-city suburbs. With poorer access to public transport, people living in these areas spent more on cars than those in the inner city. And most dwellings in the capital cities lacked close access to public transport stops serviced at least twice an hour.
Researchers said measureable policies and targets to deliver liveable, walkable communities were not in place and there were no measurable policies or targets for local employment, housing affordability, promoting access to healthy food choices, or limiting access to alcohol outlets.
Professor Billie Giles-Corti, director of RMIT’s Urban Futures Enabling Capability Platform, said it was important to develop policies when Australia’s population would be doubled by 2050.
“One significant way to create liveable cities and to improve people’s health and wellbeing is through urban design and planning that create walkable, pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods,” Professor Giles-Corti said.
“But, Australian cities are still being designed for cars.
“Our study shows that only a minority of residents in Australian cities live in walkable communities and most of our city’s density targets for new areas are still too low which mean walkable communities will never be achieved in outer suburbs.
“Higher residential densities and street connectivity, mixed land-uses, and high-quality footpaths are all desperately needed to achieve walkable cities. Yet, we don’t have the policy frameworks in place in Australia to create vibrant walkable communities.”