THE fast job growth, coupled with one of the lowest unemployment rates, marks Ballarat as one of the most livable Australian cities.
Ballarat’s 10.3 per cent jobs rise in the past year clearly eclipses the 2.6 per cent average in the most comprehensive snapshots of Australia’s 21 largest cities, plus western Sydney, released today.
The first National Cities Performance Framework pools together the latest data collected from federal government agencies, including the Census, in a live dashboard tool for policy makers.
Ballarat’s unemployment rate of 3.79 per cent is second lowest only to Darwin but Ballarat boasts the lowest youth unemployment rate, 3.03 per cent, of the big cities.
Jobs signal a strong local economy in Ballarat and a boost to a person’s economic, social and emotional well-being, according to the Framework.
When it comes to pay checks though, Ballarat has a high proportion of the city’s population in the bottom 20 per cent of national household income. But there is a also strong culture of volunteerism in the city in the past 12 months.
Federal Assistant Cities Minister Angus Taylor said considering multiple data facts in the framework helped to better understand a city’s performance.
“This is comprehensive and it’s just Australia,” Mr Taylor said.
“It allows us to really customise federal, state and local policies to the needs of a city, rather than imagining that there’s some silver bullet solution for all of our cities, which will work everywhere. That is not the way our cities work.”
Ballarat’s performance weakens when it comes to perceived safety on our streets.
Only 46.5 per cent of adults say they feel safe to walk alone in their neighbourhoods after dark – the fifth lowest share in all cities.
This is far behind the confidence of residents in nearby city Geelong (56.6 per cent).
The snapshot look also confirms Ballarat has the highest suicide rate in Victoria (16.7 suicides per 100,000 people annually).
But Ballarat also feel the most likely in Australian cities profiled to find crisis support with 96 per cent of adults indicating they feel there was someone outside their household who could help.
Waistlines are also causing concern in health and well-being indicators with Ballarat weighing in at the fifth highest obesity rate with 33.8 per cent of adults deemed obese.
Ballarat is outweighed by fellow Victorians in Albury-Wodonga (35.6 per cent obese) and Bendigo (34.2), which are second and third heaviest to Queensland city Toowoomba (36.3). Obese is defined as a body mass index more than 30.
Mr Taylor said the National Cities Performance Framework would continue to be updated with new data sources, while retaining a pure Australian focus.