ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Indigo Shire Liveability Atlas Pilot Project: Social Dimensions (2019)


Indigo Shire Council $10,000


Associate Professor Rosemary Black

Research Theme

Rural and Regional Communities


Population ageing is one of the most important social and policy issues being faced today. In Australia, the population has been on an ageing trajectory for over the past century and population ageing is well advanced. In 2011, those aged over 65 years made up 13.8 percent of the total population and this is expected to increase to 18.7 percent by 2031 (ABS 2013).

In the Ovens Murray area of north-east Victoria, the number of older people will double in the next decade. More than one in four people will be over 65 years of age and half of these people will live outside the urban centres of Wangaratta, Benalla and Wodonga. Adapting now to population ageing is crucial for rural communities to remain thriving places for individuals and families to live, learn, work and play. The increase in the numbers of older people presents a significant policy and planning issue for the provision of health, aged care, housing and infrastructure and social and recreational services. This is a challenge for many stakeholders including all levels of government, including local government.

The World Health Organisation’s Checklist of Essential Features of Age-Friendly Cities includes clean and pleasant public areas; sufficient, well-maintained and safe green spaces and outdoor seating; well-maintained pavements; sufficient and safe pedestrian crossings; and accessible and well-connected public transport. These are some of the factors that make a city more liveable for older people. By collecting, mapping and analysing a baseline of data related to liveability for this cohort, a location-specific set of indices can be developed.

The Indigo Shire Liveability Atlas Pilot project builds on the work done by ILWS researchers for two previous projects Better Parks for People and Walkability in Regional Australia done in partnership with the City of Albury. Its overall aims are to:

  1. To measure and evaluate the participation of older people in recreation and active transport activities in public spaces in regional communities in North East Victoria
  2. To develop a liveability index for older people in regional communities in North East Victoria

The project is focussed on the regional towns of Rutherglen and Chiltern, specifically the older demographic, and is being undertaken in two separate, but complimentary, components.

This part of the project, led by Associate Professor Rosemary Black, focusses on the social dimensions (the first aim)

It involves:

  • Social data collection: surveys, interviews and focus groups with older residents of the pilot communities to create knowledge around:
    • Older people’s perception of the natural environment and how and why they do or do not engage with and care for it
    • Older people’s engagement in and level of recreation in public spaces
    • Older people’s active transport activities
    • Attitudes, barriers and opportunities around value of nature, recreation and active transport
    • Links between gender, age, health status and activity (recreation and active transport)
  • Analysis of social data collected


The expected outputs from this project are:

  • Social data analysis
  • Report(s) for project partners (Indigo Shire, Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning)
  • Peer-reviewed journal papers and/or conference presentations


This research will inform the partner’s (Indigo Shire and Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning) policies and actions in relation to supporting and improving the lives of elderly people living in North East Victoria.


Associate Professor Rosy Black email

Port Macquarie

July 2019