Research Findings

Place, Health and Liveability Research Program

CIV is a project of the Place, Health and Liveability Research Program which is a joint iniative of the McCaughey VicHealth Centre of Community Wellbeing and the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne. The Victorian State Government Department of Health is also a partner of the Research Program. The goal of the Place, Health and Liveability Research Program is closely aligned to CIV and aims to generate evidence to inform public policy that builds, healthy, liveable and sustainable communities.

The following research findings and publications have been produced by research teams within the Place, Health and Liveability program and are of direct relevance to practitioners working within health planning and urban design. 

Place, Health and Liveability (PHL) Publications

The following summarises publications from the Place, Health, Liveability program:

Superdiversity in Melbourne

Melbourne is one of the world's most superdiverse cities. It is home to people from all over the world and it is not the sheer number of arrivals that makes Melbourne superdiverse, rather it the diversity of countries of origins, religions, cultures and languages that makes Melbourne superdiverse.

This report explores patterns of superdiversity across metropolitan Melbourne and provides spatial analysis according to country of birth, diversity in countries of birth within area, religion, parental country of birth, year of arival and settlement locations across time.

The findings of this report will assist future service planning and delivery of health and associated services.  

Davern, M., Warr, D., Higgs, C., Dickinson, H. & Phillimore, J. (2015). Superdiversity in Melbourne. Community Indicators Victoria and McCaughey VicHealth Community Wellbeing Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne.

Download a copy of the report here.

Shading Liveable Cities: exploring the ecological, financial and regulatory dimensions of the urban tree canopy. Working Paper 1.

In recognition of the uneven patterns of greening across metropolitan Melbourne, this study adopted a mixed methods approach to build a comprehensive understanding of the provision of urban canopies and aimed to:

  • identify different actors in developing, mainatining and governing the urban canopy
  • identify challenges and opportunities in accounting for and developing financial incentives and regulatory measures to underpin the inclusion of tree canopies into urban development
  • pilot methods to integrate ecological and social data in order to better understand variation in tree canopy cover in diverse suburbs.

Cook, N., Hughes, R., Taylor, E., Livesley, S. and Davern, M. (2015). Shading Liveable Cities: exploring the ecological, financial and regulatory dimensions of the urban tree canopy. Working Paper 1, The University of Melbourne.

Download a copy of the report here.

Assessing walking and cycling environments in the streets of Madrid: Comparing on-field and virtual audits.

The study comes from the Heart Healthy Hoods Project in Madrid, Spain, and tests correlations between a virtual and physical audit of the streetscape using M-SPACES.

Highlights of this paper include:

  • Virtual auditing provided a valid and feasible way of measuring residential urban environments in Madrid.
  • The M-SPACES appropriately discriminated between areas with different urban form in Madrid.
  • Inter-rater agreement was generally poor. Auditor training may be needed to elicit higher inter-rater agreement.

Gullón P, Badland H, Alfayate S, Bilal U, Escobar F, Diez J, Franco M. (2015). Assessing walking and cycling environments in the streets of Madrid: Comparing on-field and virtual audits. Journal of Urban Health, 92:923-939. 5-year IF=2.60; Ranked 67/162 (Q2) JCR 2014 Public, Environmental, & Occupational.    

Neighbourhood built environment associations with body size in adults: mediating effects of activity and sedentariness in a cross-sectional study of New Zealand adults

The aim of this study was to determine the associations between body size and built environment walkability variables, as well as the mediating role of physical activity and sedentary behaviours with body size. Results and Discussion: Street connectivity and neighborhood destination accessibility were significant predictors of body size Conclusions: Built environment features were associated with body size in the expected directions. Objectively-assessed physical activity mediated observed built environment-body size relationships.

 

Oliver, M., K. Witten, T. Blakely, K. Parker, H. Badland, G. Schofield, V. Ivory, J. Pearce, S. Mavoa, E. Hinckson, P. Sweetsur and R. Kearns (2015). "Neighbourhood built environment associations with body size in adults: mediating effects of activity and sedentariness in a cross-sectional study of New Zealand adults." Bmc Public Health 15.

How Liveable is Melbourne? Conceptualising and testing urban liveability indicators: Progress to date.

This report provides an overview of the Victorian liveability research program to date, and outlines proposed future activities in the context of the Place, Health, and Liveability (The University of Melbourne) – Victorian Department of Health North West Metropolitan Region Partnership. 

Badland H, Roberts R, Butterworth I, Giles?Corti B. (2015). How liveable is Melbourne? Conceptualising and testing urban liveability indicators: Progress to date. The University of Melbourne: Melbourne. 

Download a copy:http://www.communityindicators.net.au/files/docs/How%20liveable%20is%20Melb%202015_Final.pdf

 

Socio-demographic factors and neighbourhood social cohesion influence adults'willingness to grant children greater independent mobility: A cross-sectional study.

This paper examined how socio-demographic factors and neighbourhood social cohesion influenced the perceptions of distances adults would theoretically permit children to independently travel and play outdoors.

Some key points:

  1. Adults with lower education attainment reported significantly shorter distances acceptable for child independent mobility and outdoor play.
  2. Adults with higher perceptions of neighbourhood cohesion reported significantly longer distances acceptable for child independent mobility and outdoor play.
  3. Area-level disadvantage was not associated with perceived distances acceptable for child independent mobility or outdoor play.

Schoeppe S, Duncan M, Badland H, Alley S, Williams S, Rebar A, Vandelanotte C. (2015). Socio-demographic factors and neighbourhood social cohesion influence adults' willlingness to grant children greater independent mobility: A cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 15:690 doi: 10.0086/s12889-015-2053-2. IF=2.62; Ranked 55/161 (Q2) JCR 2013 Public, Environment, & Occupational Health.

Planning Healthy, Liveable and Sustainable Cities: How Can Indicators Inform Policy?

This article provides an overview of indicators used to date in Australia and internationally, to compare the liveability of cities and regions. It then outlines the results of consultations with Melbourne-based academics and decision-makers, on how to increase their utility and support the creation of healthy, liveable and sustainable cities.

Lowe, M., C. Whitzman, H. Badland, M. Davern, L. Aye, D. Hes, I. Butterworth and B. Giles-Corti (2015). "Planning Healthy, Liveable and Sustainable Cities: How Can Indicators Inform Policy?" Urban Policy and Research 33(2): 131-144.

Neighbourhood environmental attributes and adult's sedentary behaviours:review and research agenda.

Koohsari M.J., Sugiyama,T., Sahlqvist,S.,Mavoa,,S., Hadgraft, N., & Owen,N. (accepted 31 May 2015). Neighbourhood environmental attributes and adult's sedentary behaviours: review and research agenda. Preventive Medicine. 5 -year IF=3.92; Ranked 27/162 (Q1) JCR2013 Public, Environmental & Occupational Health.

 

Public open space, physical activity, urban design and public health: Concepts, methods and research agenda

Public open spaces such as parks and green spaces are key built environment elements within neighbourhoods for encouraging a variety of physical activity behaviours. Over the past decade, there has been a burgeoning number of active living research studies examining the influence of public open space on physical activity. However, the evidence shows mixed associations between different aspects of public open space (e.g., proximity, size, quality) and physical activity. These inconsistencies hinder the development of specific evidence-based guidelines for urban designers and policy-makers for (re)designing public open space to encourage physical activity. This paper aims to move this research agenda forward, by identifying key conceptual and methodological issues that may contribute to inconsistencies in research examining relations between public open space and physical activity.

Koohsari, M.J, Mavoa,S., Villanueva,K., Sugiyama,T., Badland, H., Kaczynski,AT., Owen, N., Giles-Corti,B., (2015) Health & Place Journal, Volume 33, pp 75-82.

Developing indicators in public open space to promote public health and wellbeing in communities

There is growing interest from policy-makers, practitioners, and academics alike in creating indicators of the built environment to measure progress towards achieving a wide range of policy outcomes, including enhanced health and wellbeing. Public open space (POS) is a built environment feature that is important for health and wellbeing across the life course, and contributes to the liveability of a region. To optimise health and community wellbeing outcomes, there is a need to test different policy standards and metrics to understand which measures are impactful. Identifying the best POS indicators would be useful tools to measure and monitor progress towards achieving a range of policy and health and wellbeing outcomes.

Villanueva, K., Badland, H., Hooper, P., Koohsari, M. J., Mavoa, S., Davern, M., Roberts, R., Goldfeld, S. & Giles-Corti, B. 2015. Developing indicators of public open space to promote health and wellbeing in communities. Applied Geography, 57, 112-119.

Associations of Leisure-Time Sitting In Cars With Neighbourhood Walkability

This paper used the Physical Activity in Localities and Community (PLACE) study data to examine associations of neighbourhood walkability and its components with prolonged time spent sitting in cars during leisure, among adult residents of Adelaide, Australia. Briefly, this paper found residents of high walkable neighbourhoods tended to spend less time sitting in cars. In particular, higher net retail area ratio, an indicator of tightly spaced commercial areas, was strongly associated with less time in cars. Urban design initiatives to reduce car use require further evidence, particularly on the influence of neighbourhood retail areas.

Koohsari, M. J., Sugiyama, T., Kaczynski, A. T., Owen, N, (2014). Association of Leisure-Time Sitting In Cars With Neighbourhood Walkability. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 11, 1129-1132. 

Liveable, healthy, sustainable: what are the key indicators for Melbourne neighbourhoods?

The first research paper produced by the Place, Health and Liveability research program provides an overview of current academic and policy literature on liveability indicators and was launched in mid-2013. The project was developed to inform future work on the impact of planning policy on health and wellbeing outcomes and CIV was a collaborator on the project which was funded by a University of Melbourne Interdisciplinary Seed Grant. The project enabled a review of the CIV framework and found a strong overlap between the concepts of liveability and social determinants of health, and the importance of environmental sustainability as an underlying determinant of both health and liveability. The review identified 11 policy domains and associated indicators that influence liveability.

Lowe, M., Whitzman, C., Badland, H., Davern, M., Hes, D., Aye, L., Butterworth, I. and Giles-Corti, B. (2013), Liveable, healthy, sustainable: What are the key indicators for Melbourne neighbourhoods?, Research Paper 1, Place, Health and Liveability Research Program, University of Melbourne.

Association of Street Connectivity and Road Traffic Speed with Park Usage and Park-Based Physical Activity

In brief, the paper argues how multiple elements of access influence both public open space visits and participation in physical activity therein. The extant literature on public open space and physical activity has primarily conceptualized access as a simple concept such as shortest access to the nearest park and surprisingly, considering multiple elements of access has largely been neglected in the literature to date.

Kaczynski et al, Association of Street Connectivity and Road Traffic Speed with Park Usage and Park-Based Physical Activity, American Journal of Health Promotion (in-press)

Identifying and developing effective approaches to foster intercultural understanding in schools

This is a review of strategies to foster intercultural understanding in school settings.

Jessica Walton, Naomi Priest & Yin Paradies (2013): Identifying and developingeffective approaches to foster intercultural understanding in schools, Intercultural Education,DOI:10.1080/14675986.2013.793036

Complexities of Everyday Racism

This explores everyday conceptualisations of racism and is based on cognitive interviews and focus groups with predominantly Anglo-Celtic participants. It explores distinctions between racism and racialisation.

IJCV : Vol. 7 (1) 2013 Walton, Priest, and Paradies: Complexities of Everyday Racism.

Effects of access to public open spaces on walking: Is proximity enough?

Public open spaces (POSs) are important destinations and settings for walking in neighbourhoods. In a recent study in Melbourne, we used several measures of proximity to POS to examine associations with amount of walking to and within POSs. None of the proximity measures were associated with walking (versus no walking) to, or within POSs. Distance to the nearest POS and the number of POSs within 1 km were negatively associated with the absolute amount of walking to POSs. Residents who lived in areas in which POSs were located on less integrated streets reported more walking to and within POSs. The authors recommend that future landscape and urban design research should consider not only proximity to POSs, but also how factors such as characteristics of the routes that people traverse to reach POS influence use of, and the likelihood of walking to, and within, these important neighbourhood destinations. These results have been published in the journal of Landscape and Urban Planning.

Koohsari, M. J., Kaczynski, A. T., Giles-Corti, B., & Karakiewicz, J. A. (2013). Effects of access to public open spaces on walking: Is proximity enough? Landscape and Urban Planning, 117, 92-99.