by Kylie McDonald
Liveability. It’s a phrase we often hear and read about in the media now days. The seemingly apocalyptic year that has been 2020 has many of us thinking about how we live and how we work. It has given many of us a moment’s pause, provided the space many needed to think about what’s important. To reflect on ways to create a better balance between work, recreation and family time. The recent interest in the Bendigo property market from Melbourne buyers this year has reinforced what was already an emerging trend. City people are considering a better quality of life and relocating to rural centres.
RMIT University’s Australian Urban Observatory recently confirmed what locals already knew, that Bendigo is one of Australia’s most liveable cities. So, what is liveability and how is it measured? The Observatory combines nine indicators of liveability found to be associated with health and wellbeing outcomes, such as: social infrastructure, transport, public open space, employment and housing. Other definitions add indicators that healthy neighbourhoods be safe, attractive, socially cohesive and inclusive and environmentally sustainable.
It is not surprising that Bendigo ticks these boxes. With housing that is still affordable compared to Melbourne and other regional centres, a range of great schools, a glittering and thriving Arts precinct, a celebration of historic buildings and culture, sporting facilities, major events and a diverse and well supported business community rich with innovation - Bendigo has it all going on.
Families are attracted by a great quality of life, with parks, bike paths, safe neighbourhoods, a range of public and private schools, and TAFE and LaTrobe University offering tertiary pathways. Bendigo looks great with its grand old gold rush buildings, there is plenty to do with museums, galleries and theatres. Bendigo has been recognised by UNESCO as a creative city of gastronomy – an accreditation recognising all the exciting things happening across the city and region in food and beverages, culture and sustainability.
The City of Greater Bendigo certainly prioritises enhancing liveability when prioritising projects for government and private sector investment. Transport networks are being improved, business and residential infrastructure expansion is being supported. Council predicts Bendigo’s population will almost double by 2050 and continue to support liveability in community and economic planning for the future. Be.Bendigo CEO, Dennis Bice says, ‘the statistics tell us already 2000 more people come into Bendigo each day than leave, and this number will only become greater.’
Be.Bendigo are here to support local business by providing connections, developing leadership and business capacity. Dennis Bice is incredibly optimistic about predicted population growth in Bendigo and what this will mean for local business and the whole community, particularly in providing an exciting vibrant city centre and more work opportunities for the young. ‘We need more population,’ Dennis says, more growth means more opportunities and a stronger local economy.
Bendigo’s business community has certainly shown itself to be supportive, resilient and innovative throughout the current COVID-19 crisis. Restaurants keep afloat and connected to their loyal customers by adapting to offering takeaway or delivered gourmet meals. A local gym continues to provide employment for young staff by offering equipment hire and group exercise via Zoom, taking care of both fitness and mental health of their members by creating an online community. The local community has rallied too, some buying vouchers from favourite local restaurants and shops to support business survival for all to enjoy in better times.
It just goes to show, that in times of uncertainty and financial pressure, with the support of a healthy and well engaged community, optimistic innovation emerges, and businesses evolve and survive. As Winston Churchill said, ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste’. It’s testament to good country resilience, it is perhaps even due to our city’s enhanced liveability.