About us

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:

  1. 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;
  2. causal relationships and thresholds for built environment interventions using data from longitudinal studies and natural experiments;
  3. the economic benefits of built environment interventions designed to influence health and wellbeing outcomes; and
  4. Factors, tools and interventions that help translate research into policy and practice.

How will we work?

The core values that drive our work are:

  • Innovation
  • Excellence
  • Policy-relevance
  • Collaboration
  • Equity
  • 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.

Our governance

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.

National and State Advisory Groups Members List PDF, 91.07 KB

Contact us

For more information, please contact the CRE National Administrator:

cre-hlc@unimelb.edu.au, Tel: +61 3 9035 3418.