BENDIGO’s rank of equal 16th out of 30 of Australia’s most “family friendly” cities is not a true indicator of the city’s liveability, City of Greater Bendigo Council chief executive officer Craig Niemann says.
In the Suncorp Bank Family Friendly Index, Bendigo ranked in the top five in volunteering rates, and top 10 for affordable housing, health and low crime rates.
But crowded schools and childcare, and a high unemployment rate worked against Bendigo to produce the mid-table 16th position.
Launceston was named the nation’s family friendliest city while Victorian rivals Albury-Wodonga and Ballarat placed fourth and 22nd respectively.
Mr Niemann said Bendigo’s ranking undersold Bendigo’s liveability and the tools used to conduct the survey did not accurately capture the city’s worth.
“They rate childcare on children per childcare centre, but is that a good measure?” he said.
“It doesn’t talk about quality of childcare at all.
“I think we have to take this survey realising it does not include community views and expectations.
“We have climate, amenities, arts and culture; but these are things not listed.
“We would think of these as things we do really well and they are putting Bendigo on the map.”
He said Bendigo’s unemployment rate, which was charted as 6.4 per cent in 2011, had since decreased to less than 5 per cent.
“That’s the best figure that we’ve had in a long time,” he said.
“More jobs have been created and we have a vibrant economy here.”
He said it was pleasing to see Bendigo’s high rate of volunteering, with 21.5 per cent of residents volunteering for an organisation, place fifth out of the 30 cities.
He said the liveability of Bendigo was proven by the amount of people moving to the city.
“Overall people are wanting to and are moving to Bendigo.
“People coming here are attracted by jobs, access to education, health services and facilities and everything they need, plus are only an hour and a half away from Melbourne.
“It’s about providing an opportunity to come and live.
“We think we come across pretty well.”