ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Indigo Shire Liveability Atlas Pilot Project: Walkability (2019-2020)


North East CMA, $5000 & $5000 (CSU)


Dr Ana Horta and Associate Professor Rachel Whitsed

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.

This project is being implemented in partnership with Indigo Shire Council which is actively supporting project dissemination and participant recruitment activities. Indigo Shire Council is looking forward to the results of the project as a contribution towards the Chiltern Connectivity Plan and the Rutherglen Revitalisation Plan, as well as supporting the delivery of the Ageing Well Strategy and town planning and infrastructure.

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 complementary, components.

This part of the project, led by Dr Ana Horta, focusses on the liveability/walkability index aspect of the project (the second aim). it involves:

  • Baseline spatial data collection and collation: census data (population, age, socio-economic status), roads and paths, public facilities including parks, terrain, fresh food outlets, public transport
  • Baseline application of existing walkability and liveability indices
  • Direct observation of participants’ use of outdoor space through wearable GPS devices
  • Analysis of spatially explicit links between activity patterns, demographics, health status and built and natural environment
  • Development and validation of regional walkability/liveability index for older people


Expected outputs are:

  • Database and maps of results of spatial analysis (prototype liveability index)
  • Report(s) for project partners and local government
  • Peer-reviewed journal papers and/or conference presentations


The development of a proto-type liveability index will form the basis for a further project developing an online Regional Liveability Atlas, with the ability to explore the components of the liveability index at a fine spatial scale across multiple cohorts.


Dr Ana Horta email


July 2019