In November, the Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities met in Melbourne to discuss elements of liveable communities and how these can be mandated, achieved and measured in Australia. A key task for to the Committee was the explore the Australian government's role in the development of cities. Representatives from Center of Research Excellence in Healthy, Liveable Communities, Australian Cycling Promotion Foundation and the Heart Foundation (represented by Professor Anna Timperio) presented to the Committee.
The Heart Foundation's key recommendation was "for the implementation of National Urban Design policies that enable active living for Australians of all ages and abilities in cities and towns". Professor Timperio noted that 44% of Australian adults and 80% of Australian children do not undertake the recommended amount of physical activity, as well as it not being the norm for children to walk or ride their bicycles to get to school. Professor Timperio drew upon the well established link between physical inactivity and increased cardiovascular disease, as well as other chronic health conditions. "Increasing rates of walking and cycling through pedestrian- and cycle-friendly design is an important part of reducing the burden of disease in Australia and can also have other important environmental benefits including a decrease in the reliance on motorised transport".
The speakers acknowledged the "Widspread recognition that the built environment plays an important role in encouraging or discouraging active living across all age groups". Healthy Active by Design was highlighted as an excellent example of the Heart Foundation's partnership with the planning industry. HAbD is an evidence based resource that guides policy and practice for developing livable places and spaces. Professor Timperio concluded the Heart Foundation's submission by noting that "Adopting healthy planning and design principles that cater for all ages and abilities across Australian cities and towns, is a critical part of the solution for supporting active living and reducing the burden of disease in Australia".
The Inquiry is currently accepting submissions. Read the full transcript of the Melbourne Public Hearing here.