BALLARAT is the eighth least family-friendly city in Australia and less safe than Melbourne and Sydney, according to new research.
The research that compared the nation’s 30 largest cities on indicators such as access to schools, health, child care, income and housing, found Ballarat had the worst unemployment levels.
The city also fared badly in crime rate, disposable income and child care services.
Despite the report, Ballarat City Councillor Des Hudson stands by the city.
Cr Hudson said he found the Suncorp report quite surprising, especially in terms of Ballarat’s family-friendliness.
“In relation to family-friendliness, Ballarat has a very active family-friendly committee.
“We provide a number of family-friendly services in terms of playgrounds, parks accessibility, strong maternal health services, good child care access, and I believe we are at a point where Ballarat parents face little to no waiting lists for child care in Ballarat.”
Cr Hudson commented on Ballarat’s ranking as the ninth least safe place in Australia and warned to be mindful of how statistics can be read.
“These crime stats are reflective of all crime reported in Ballarat, not specifics,” he said.
“As a member of the Committee for Ballarat, I know that community safety in Ballarat is extremely important.
“We work very closely with some of our big stakeholders including the Victoria Police and Ballarat City Council on city safe initiatives including our CCTV footage programs and safe lighting at taxi ranks.”
Cr Hudson said he believed the report might be responsive to people’s receptions, and was therefore based on how people felt.
“If it is based on perceptions from Ballarat’s large exposure to media, which puts these issues at the front of people’s minds, it may actually challenge the way people feel about Ballarat, hence the statistics in this report,” he said.
“I would still maintain that Ballarat is a safe city and a great place to raise a family.”
Despite Ballarat’s low rankings in many categories, the city did fall within the top three cities for its sense of community.
“That’s a fabulous result and speaks highly of Ballarat’s connection to volunteering,” Cr Hudson said.
“That statistic does not surprise me at all.”
Launceston was rated best out of the 30 cities, based on its low crime rate, affordable housing and good availability of child care.
The children who live there also attend the least-crowded schools, with about 320 students per school.
That compared with locations such as Coffs Harbour, in last place with 1521 students per school.
Canberra was second, boosted by its high disposable incomes and good child care services.
However, its higher crime rates and high housing costs kept it from the top spot.
Other state and territory capitals trailed behind, with Melbourne ranked 14th and Sydney in the 23rd spot.
Scoring a little higher were Adelaide and Perth (equal fifth), Hobart (seventh) and Darwin (equal eighth).
The Courier’s online community joined the conversation yesterday afternoon with mixed opinions on how Ballarat fared.
Jo-Anne Clifford posted on The Courier’s Facebook page: “I’ve lived in Sydney & Melbourne and these results surprise me. Maybe I don’t get out enough in Ballarat.”
Others suggested Ballarat needed more family-friendly activities to boost the city.
“I have never had a problem living here and lived here for 24 years.
“It does need some more family-friendly places, I would agree some suburbs of Ballarat are unsafe, but not all,” Sophie Lou commented.
Christopher Dean raised the question: “The study was conducted by Suncorp Bank – who is to say their methodologies while undertaking this assessment were accurate?”
Narelle Boord stood by the city despite the report’s findings.
“I’ve lived in almost every state and came home to raise my kids ... great kinders and schools, dance classes, sports clubs and they catch buses without incident.
“Ballarat is family-friendly enough for me ... maybe it helps that I have a friendly family,” she said.
By 5pm yesterday, more than 80 people had commented on The Courier’s Facebook post.