What is our vision?
To create environments where people can be healthy and connected through access to liveable and equitable communities.
What is our mission?
To be a source of high-quality and policy-relevant research that informs healthy urban design and planning.
Why does it matter?
Globally, the burden of non-communicable diseases is growing. Common risk factors include insufficient physical activity, sedentary behaviour, poor diet and obesity. A whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach is needed to improve health in our communities.
Why do we exist?
There is little evidence about the ways the built environment influences health and health behaviour outcomes, the environmental interventions likely to have highest impact, or the 'dose' interventions required to optimise health outcomes. Economic analyses of the health benefits and co-benefits (e.g., reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion) for delivering built environment interventions in both greenfield and established sites are in early stages of development.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) in Healthy, Liveable Communities will seek to address these gaps by:
- generating and exchanging knowledge about the scale of, and thresholds for, high leverage built environment interventions;
- understanding the mechanisms and pathways through which they influence outcomes; and
- understanding the economic co-benefits of delivering those interventions.
This evidence is critical to inform evidence-based policy and practice. Thus, the final aim of this Centre will be to understand the barriers and facilitators in policy and practice reform and to evaluate tools and materials to help translate the research into action.
What will we do?
This CRE in Healthy, Liveable Communities will generate and exchange new knowledge about:
- measuring policy-relevant built environment features associated with leading non-communicable disease risk factors (physical activity, obesity) and health outcomes (cardiovascular disease, diabetes) and mental health;
- causal relationships and thresholds for built environment interventions using data from longitudinal studies and natural experiments;
- the economic benefits of built environment interventions designed to influence health and wellbeing outcomes; and
- Factors, tools and interventions that help translate research into policy and practice.
How will we work?
The core values that drive our work are:
- Capacity building
Who is leading the work?
This project is being led by the McCaughey VicHealth Community Wellbeing Unit at the University of Melbourne, with collaborative research nodes at the University of Western Australia, Queensland University of Technology, University of Queensland and Swinburne University of Technology.
Whilst the CRE is national, state-based work occurs in VIC, WA and QLD. Each state is governed by an Advisory Group made up of representatives from our formal partners (as listed on the NHMRC grant) as well as other partners identified as important stakeholders to progressing the work and translating it into policy and practice in each state. A member of each state has been invited to participate in a National Advisory Group. As the focus of the Centre is on research translation, the key role of the advisory groups is to assist in devising policy-relevant questions for the research team to explore, and to devise activities and advocacy that will assist with research translation (e.g., developing and promoting policy briefings based on the evidence developed as a result of the CRE, linking this evidence to state-based policy, and advocating for policy reform). However, we also propose building the capacity of early and mid-career researchers to work in partnership with policy-makers and practitioners. Members of the State Advisory Groups will be asked to play a mentoring role to support the work of PhD students and early and mid-career researchers on the team who are responsible for leading the work.
For more information, please contact the CRE National Administrator:
firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +61 3 9035 3418.
The research will be undertaken in collaboration with Australian policy makers and practitioners covering planning, urban design, transport planning and health. Policy-relevant research themes will emerge from their input, as will ideas about effectively disseminating research findings to meet their needs.
The Centre will include the five themes below:
Part of the mandate of this NHMRC-funded centre is to build research capacity in the complex fields of health and the built environment and the translation of evidence in these areas into policy and practice. As a result, the centre supports an exceptional team of postdoctoral research fellows who lead each of the five themes, under the guidance of the Chief Investigators and in collaboration with other senior and associate investigators on the grant. The centre is also building capacity in early career researchers by supporting a team of PhD students who oversee the work undertaken under each of the five themes.
Aim: To create and validate 'second generation' Geographic Information System (GIS) measures of the built environment associated with health and wellbeing outcomes that are aligned with state and national health and urban planning policies.
Lead: Dr Hannah Badland
Dr Hannah Badland is a Senior Research Fellow at The McCaughey VicHealth Community Wellbeing Unit, University of Melbourne. Dr Badland's research focuses on examining and evaluating associations between health behaviours and outcomes, the physical urban environment, and transport at the neighbourhood level, in both children and adults. She is also developing and testing theoretical frameworks to identify ecological associations with social determinants of health, wellbeing, and inequalities over time. Currently she is working with Professor Billie Giles-Corti to develop a Health, Place and Liveability Program at The McCaughey VicHealth Community Wellbeing Unit, which seeks to inform both methodology and policy to develop healthy communities.
PhD student: Maureen Murphy
Aim: To establish whether, and to what extent, the built environment is causally related to health and wellbeing outcomes.
Lead: Dr Jerome Rachele
Dr Jerome Rachele is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Institute for Health and Ageing, Australian Catholic University and the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Healthy, Liveable Communities. His research centres on investigating causal relationships between built environment and health and wellbeing outcomes using data from longitudinal studies and natural experiments.
Aim: To identify the quantity and mix of built environment interventions required to optimise health and wellbeing outcomes.
Lead: Dr Lucy Gunn
Dr Lucy Gunn is a Research Fellow at The McCaughey VicHealth Community Wellbeing Unit, University of Melbourne. Her research examines the role of the built environment on health and wellbeing outcomes using statistical models. Her research examines whether there is a threshold or minimum amount of built environment factors that support health and wellbeing, and following from this work she is developing and conducting economic analyses of built environment interventions aimed at increasing levels of physical activity and reducing chronic disease outcomes. She is also investigating the correlation of pollution with vulnerable communities using community indicator data in partnership with the Environment Protection Agency Victoria. As part of the Community Indicators Victoria team she provides analytical support and consulting experience helping government and private organizations in their health and wellbeing planning.
Aim: To develop methods to determine the economic merit of built environment interventions, including their effect on health and wellbeing outcomes and health care expenditure, and to evaluate the merits of specific interventions in existing and new built environments.
Lead: Dr Lucy Gunn
Aim: To work with the health sector, as well as sectors and agencies that shape built environments impacting on health (e.g., urban planners and designers, transport planners, engineers, the land development industry) to inform and influence decision-making, regulations, legislation policy and current urban design practice, and the integration and uptake of relevant evidence.
Lead: Dr Paula Hooper
PhD student: Haes Houweling
Professor Billie Giles-Corti
This national centre is led by Professor Billie Giles-Corti, Director of the McCaughey VicHealth Community Wellbeing Unit, University of Melbourne. Professor Giles-Corti also leads the Victorian cohort of this national centre. For two decades, she and a multi-disciplinary team of researchers and postgraduate research students have been studying the impact of the built environment on health and wellbeing outcomes. Professor Giles-Corti collaborates with research teams across Australia and in Canada and the UK. She is an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, an Honorary Fellow of both the Planning Institute of Australia and the Public Health Association and a former Fulbright Senior Scholar (2008). In 2011, she was awarded the PHA's Inaugural Mentor of the Year. Professor Giles-Corti has published over 200 articles and reports, and in 2014 and 2015, was included in Thomson Reuters' list of Highly Cited Researchers, ranking her among the top 1% researchers globally by citations in the social sciences field.
Professor Gavin Turrell
Professor Gavin Turrell is a Principal Research Fellow (Professor) in the School of Public Health at Queensland University of Technology and is supported by a NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship (2006-2015). Professor Turrell leads the Queensland cohort of this national centre. He was appointed on an NHMRC/National Heart Foundation Career Development Award (2002-2005), and was an NHMRC Post Doctoral Research Fellow (1999-2001). His primary research interests are in social epidemiology, with a particular focus on the social determinants of health and health inequalities. His research is mainly population-based and examines how social and economic factors (measured at the individual, group, and area levels) influence health and health-related behaviours. His work is increasingly focusing on ways to reduce health inequalities through public policy, health policy, health promotion, and other intervention strategies.
Professor Fiona Bull
Professor Fiona Bull is Director of the Centre for Built Environment and Health (CBEH), School of Population Health at The University of Western Australia and leads the Western Australian cohort of the CRE. She is the Chair of Global Advocacy for Physical Activity Council (GAPA) and has 20 years of experience in public health with a focus on prevention of chronic disease, and specifically lifestyle-related risk factors including physical inactivity. Her research and public health work extends across both developed and developing countries and she has extensive national and international research collaborations and ongoing work with the World Health Organisation. To date, Professor Bull has an H-index of 32, more than 150 scientific publications, book chapters and reports and research funding of $16 million, and was an invited speaker at the World Economic Forum (Davos Jan 2013). Outputs of her research have informed local, state and national policy and practice. Professor Bull provides leadership to the global advocacy agenda for physical activity through her work with the Advocacy Council (GAPA) of the International Society of Physical Activity and Health (www.globalap.org.uk). Professor Bulls' ongoing work aims to influence, support and build capacity to address the global agenda on physical activity in all regions.
Other chief investigators
We have created a multidisciplinary research team with expertise in social and behavioural epidemiology, geography, geographic information systems, biostatistics, health economics, epidemiology and burden of disease, urban design and health, health policy and practice, social planning, and transport.
- Dr Chris Pettit (Planning, NSW)
- Professor Simon Washington (Transport, Qld)
- Professor Takemi Sugiyama (Architecture and social epidemiology, Vic)
- Professor Alan Shiell (Health economics, Vic)
- Dr Lennert Veerman (Epidemiology and Burden of disease, Qld)
- Professor Matthew Knuiman (Biostatistics, WA)
- Professor Anne Kavanagh (Social epidemiology, Vic)
Associate investigators include:
- A/Professor Adrian Barnett (Biostatistics, Qld);
- Dr Bryan Boruff (Geography, WA);
- Dr Karen Lamb (Biostatistics, Vic);
- Dr Serryn Eagleson (Biostatistics, Vic);
- Professor Matthew Tonts (Geography, WA).
Our international collaborators include:
- UK: Dr David Ogilvie, Cambridge University; Professor Chris Owen, Enable London, University of London St George;
- Denmark: Professor Jens Troelsen, University of Southern Denmark;
- Canada: Professor Larry Frank, University of British Colombia; Dr Gavin McCormack, Calgary University;
- USA: Professor Subu Subramanian, Harvard University; Dr Karen Lee, Active Design Centre, City of New York.
Our industry partners will assist in devising policy-relevant questions for the research team to explore, the dissemination of the research findings, and research translation i.e., advocacy for changes to policy and practice.
Planning Institute of Australia
The Planning Institute of Australia is the national body representing the planning profession. Through education, communication and professional development, PIA is the pivotal organisation serving and guiding thousands of planning professionals in their role to create better communities
The National Heart Foundation is committed to reducing the impact of cardiovascular disease in Australia. It aims to promote quality heart health and is dedicated to saving lives through financially supporting world-class cardiovascular research, providing guidelines to health professionals, keeping the public informed and educated, building healthy communities and creating partnerships.
Department of Planning (WA)
The Department of Planning holds a state-wide leadership responsibility in the planning of Western Australia through State Strategic Policy development, planning communities for the future, facilitating private and public investment, regulation and education. The Department adopts a strategic and holistic approach to achieve an effective balance between economic, social, environmental and sustainable outcomes. The Department continually strives to improve the planning system and supporting regulatory framework by working closely with its numerous partners and stakeholders.
WA Planning Commission (WA)
The WAPC is the statutory authority with state-wide responsibilities for urban, rural and regional land use planning and land development matters. The WAPC responds to the strategic direction of government and is responsible for the strategic planning of the State.
Brisbane City Council
Brisbane is the largest local government in Australia with 26 wards and 27 councillor positions. Brisbane City Council works with the community to guide the city's future growth and development. The Brisbane Vision, long term plans and other strategies are put in place to address planning for the future.
Department of Health (Vic)
The Department of Health is committed to achieving the best health and wellbeing for all Victorians. The department is the lead portfolio agency overseeing all health services, mental health, ageing and aged care, and preventative health. The department is also responsible for planning, policy development, funding and regulation of health service providers and activities that promote and protect Victoria's health. These include public health services, public hospitals and external organisations that deliver health, mental health and aged care services in metropolitan, rural and regional Victoria.
Planning Analysis Branch, Department Infrastructure & Regional Development
The Planning Analysis Branch supports the Australian Government investing effectively and efficiently in infrastructure and protecting nationally significant transport corridors and assets. The branch does this by engaging with other levels of government and the private sector and analysing planning processes and policies which may impact upon compatible long term infrastructure planning.
- Newsletter 1, August 2014 PDF, 747.96 KB
- Newsletter 2, November 2014 PDF, 673.89 KB
- Newsletter 3, September 2015 PDF, 258.06 KB
- Newsletter 4, March 2016 PDF, 835.11 KB
- Newsletter 5, October 2016 PDF, 350.57 KB
- Badland H, Davern M, Villanueva K, Mavoa S, Milner A, Roberts R, Giles-Corti B. Conceptualising and Measuring Spatial Indicators of Employment Through a Liveability Lens. Soc Indic Res, 2015. doi:10.1007/s11205-015-0978-06. Download Infographic
- Badland H, Mavoa S, Villanueva K, Roberts R, Davern M, Giles-Corti B. The development of policy-relevant transport indicators to monitor health outcomes and behaviours. Journal of Transport & Health, 2015. 2: 103-110. (Special issue - Walking & Cycling: The contributions of health and transport geography). Download Infographic
- Badland H, Whitzman C, Lowe M, Davern M, Aye L, Butterworth I, Hes D, Giles-Corti B. Urban liveability: Emerging lessons from Australia for exploring the potential for indicators to measure the social determinants of health.Social Science & Medicine, 2014. 111:64-73. Download Infographic
- Giles-Corti B, Sallis J.F, Sugiyama T, Lawrence F.D, Lowe M, Owen N (accepted December 4, 2014). Translating Active Living Research into Policy and Practice: One Important Pathway to Chronic Disease Prevention. Journal of Public Health Policy. Download Infographic
- Turrell G, Hewitt B, Haynes M, Nathan A, Giles-Corti B. Change in walking for transport: a longitudinal study of the influence of neighbourhood disadvantage and individual-level socioeconomic position in mid-aged adults. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 2014. 11:151. Download Infographic
- Villanueva K, Badland H, Hooper P, Koohsari M, Mavoa S, Davern M, Roberts R, Goldfeld S, Giles-Corti B. Developing indicators of Public Open Space to promote health and wellbeing in communities. Applied Geography, 2015. 57, 112-119. Download Infographic
- Villanueva K, Badland H, Giles-Corti B, Goldfeld S. Using spatial analysis of the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) to advance our understanding of 'neighbourhood effects' on child health and development. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 2015. 51(6), 577-579. Download Infographic
- Bull F, Hooper P, Foster S, Giles-Corti B. Living Liveable. The impact of a Liveable Neighbourhoods Policy on the health and wellbeing of Perth residents, The University of Western Australia, 2015.
- Badland B, Roberts R, Butterworth I, Giles-Corti B. How liveable is Melbourne? Conceptualising and testing urban liveability indicators: Progress to date, The University of Melbourne, 2015.
- Giles-Corti B, Mavoa S, Eagleson S, Davern M, Roberts R, Badland H. Transport Walkability Index: Melbourne, The University of Melbourne, 2014
- Giles-Corti B, Hooper P, Foster S, Koohsari MJ, Francis J. Low Density Development: Impacts on physical activity and associated outcomes. A report for the National Heart Foundation of Australia, The University of Melbourne, 2014.
- Giles-Corti B, Ryan K, Foster S. Increasing density in Australia: maximising the health benefits and minimising the harm, report to the National Heart Foundation Australia, Melbourne, 2012.
Centre for the Built Environment and Health, University of Western Australia
SEID I and II
Healthy Active by Design
The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre
Active Living Research
Blueprint for an Active Australia 2014
Step It Up! The U.S. Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities