IS Crace Canberra’s “happiest” suburb?
University of Canberra researchers will soon find out, using the suburb in Canberra’s north as a case study to find out whether the design of suburbs can have long-term benefits for the health and wellbeing of their residents.
Led by Léan OBrien, senior research fellow at the University’s Faculty of Health, “The Crace Study” is a novel exercise for Canberra but Dr O’Brien and colleagues hope the findings will be informative at regional, national and international levels.
“Crace, which had its first release of homes in 2009, was designed to be attractive and safe and to promote getting out and about, engaging in fun activities, social interaction and sustainable living,” Dr OBrien says.
“Current thinking is that these design features will also have long-term benefits for the health and wellbeing of residents, which The Crace Study will test.”
Professor Helen Berry, who leads the University’s healthy and sustainable communities research program, says that projects like these are rare and it has already attracted interest from policy-makers.
“The Crace Study is part of a growing international effort to understand how to build our cities in a way that keeps people healthy and happy. There’s growing demand for studies like these, which is why policy-makers and international bodies like the World Health Organization are watching The Crace Study closely,” Professor Berry says.
The study began in 2012 with an initial survey of 277 people, and is planned to continue for at least five years. The second wave of data will be collected in a survey opening later this month.
Responses to the first survey suggested Crace residents were physically active, well connected with their neighbours, and engaged with community events. Subsequent stages of the study will look for improvements in the health and wellbeing of residents as the suburb develops.
“Over time we’ll see how changes in the suburb affect the lives of Crace residents and whether they get happier and healthier”, Professor Berry says.