Safe and sound despite the costs

ACCORDING to the Australian City Liveability Index survey, 69 per cent of us feel that Canberra is “a safe place for people and their property” (the highest proportion in Australia) while 71 per cent consider we have “good educational facilities and healthcare services” (equal highest proportion with Melbourne).  

Despite this, Canberra still has the most expensive rental costs and household contents and services, and only 42 per cent of us feel that our city provides “quality affordable housing”. This is perhaps not surprising in a city which also has the highest land price per square metre (with the smallest average block sizes) and where rental vacancy rates are less than one per cent.

The  “State of Australian Cities Report 2012” notes an increasing national trend of longer commutes as workforces move away from manufacturing on the city fringes and into the “knowledge” industries in the city centres.

This trend highlights the need for improved urban density policies to create more liveable and productive cities.

Interestingly, Canberra appears to have led the change to higher density housing in 2011 with the highest proportion of attached dwellings in building approvals (approaching 70 per cent). However, our public transport strategies need to catch up with this move towards a denser capital; 81 per cent of Canberrans are still using their cars to get to work.

On a final positive note, Canberra has the highest percentage of workforce participation (at 72 per cent). And when we’re not working, we are helping others – more than 20 per cent of us aged over 15 years volunteer with a group or organisation making us the “volunteering capital of Australia”. Not a bad wrap for the Capital.

Catherine Carter is ACT executive director of the Property Council of Australia

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