Canberra: the world capital for wellbeing

The New York Times says we’re hip, the My City survey says we have Australia’s most liveable city, and now we lead the nation for wellbeing, according to new OECD rankings.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Regional Well-Being Report 2014, released this week, finds that the ACT enjoys the highest level of wellbeing not only in Australia, but in the 362 regions across the 34 OECD member countries.

There is only one place in the entire OECD that scores 9 out of 10 or more for each benchmark – and that is the Australian Capital Territory.

Canberra topped the table in six of the eight benchmarks: education, employment, disposable income, safety, healthcare and accessibility to services. We scored 10 out of 10 for ‘civic engagement’ – alongside all other states except the Northern Territory.

The only area for improvement was in ‘environment’ – but we’re still in the top nine per cent when compared across all OECD regions.

These results should come as no surprise to Canberrans, who know they live in a wonderful city. What this does underscore is our golden opportunity to build one of the world’s most liveable cities.

To do this, we need to make housing more affordable, set a fair level of property taxation and ensure our infrastructure supply keeps up with demand.

We must embrace the brave and bold ideas and infrastructure projects that will continue to improve our quality of life, and foster a city that is innovative, creative, vibrant and diverse.

The ACT Government has committed to $2.5 billion in infrastructure investment, which includes large-scale, transformative projects such as Capital Metro and City to the Lake. These high-quality infrastructure projects will generate jobs and further enhance our city’s liveability.

However, while this level of investment is visionary, it is also extremely ambitious. Delivery depends on setting clear investment priorities and building robust business cases with accurate financial modelling. There’s never been more vital to get this right.

It is a truly exciting time to be living and working in Canberra. We can all be proud of the city we have created – one that is the envy of the OECD.

Catherine Carter is ACT Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia