New Report Looks at the Social Challenges Affecting Melbourne
Monday, 16th October 2017 at 5:37 pm
A report card on the health and wellbeing of Melbourne has been launched to help charitable and not-for-profit organisations tackle social issues affecting the community.
Greater Melbourne Vital Signs 2017 was launched on Monday by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation at the State Library of Victoria.
The report gathered data from a range of sources including the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2016 Census, the Victorian Population Health Survey 2015, the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO.
The foundation’s CEO Catherine Brown said the report was an important tool to promote discussion on key issues affecting Melbourne.
“It features up to date data that provides information on key issues. At the foundation, we have used this information to inform our grant making decisions, to ensure that we are providing grants to address key community issues,” Brown said.
“We hope Greater Melbourne Vital Signs 2017 will be used by charitable and not-for-profit organisations, policy advisors, local communities and other philanthropic foundations.
“Many of the challenges we face can be reduced if we take a proactive approach as a community, especially collaborating across sectors.”
Brown said while Melbourne was “vibrant and culturally diverse”, many issues needed to be addressed to ensure the city remained sustainable.
“As Melburnians, we have great things to celebrate such as our city’s sport and arts culture, education, healthcare and stability, however we need to keep working on key issues such as reducing homelessness, discrimination, increasing employment opportunities for young people and ensuring we work on creating sustainable food systems,” she said.
One of the guest speakers at the launch was Ian Bird, the president of Community Foundations of Canada.
He told Pro Bono News that the launch brought together a number of key stakeholders to discuss how to tackle the myriad of challenges affecting Melbourne.
“It was a great event and an example of how a community foundation can bring together such a diverse audience of civic leaders and community organisations and donors and academics and international folks like me,” Bird said.
“The launch of the Vital Signs report was pretty remarkable, and consistent with what we’re seeing from cities all around the world that are undertaking Vital Signs initiatives. It tells a story about a community and city that has some amazing strengths and also some things it really wants to grapple with, around [issues like] housing challenges and youth unemployment.”
At the event, Bird spoke about the importance of collective giving, which he said was one of the strengths of the philanthropic community in Australia.
“We’ve observed how in Australia and in particular Melbourne, there’s been some innovation in how they’ve responded to previous issues identified in Vital Signs and through other methods,” he said.
“There’s a lot of work that’s going on here around more innovative approaches to grant making, but there’s been this idea that through giving circles and the gathering of collective philanthropy, that there’s this potential to make a bigger impact. It’s something we haven’t seen on the same scale in Canada, so that’s something we want to learn more about and take back home.”
He also spoke about the importance of this Vital Signs report as a way to convey general population information about the greater Melbourne community in an easy to read format.
“Vital Signs is important because it’s a new kind of asset for community, that provides the kind of data and evidence and analysis in one place that can be used in the weeks and months ahead, [and which] can be talked about at the community level without needing an academic beside you to interpret it,” Bird said.
“It was impressive to see the Lord Mayor here identify that it’s meaningful for local government too and that it provides a reinforcement for things that are going well, and identifies areas where work is still required.
“It’s as much about the process and enduring nature of Vital Signs and what it means for local conversations… that really is a new asset for Melbourne to make use of.”
Bird added that there were many similarities between the social issues that Australia and Canada faced in the community.
He said he hoped his visit to Australia would help to foster a greater partnership between these nations, in which they could tackle these shared problems together.
“There was some good joking going on between the Melbourne folks and I, given I’m from Vancouver which is also known as one of the most liveable cities in the world, and in the global rankings [they joked] about how Melbourne has moved ahead of my hometown,” Bird said.
“What is clear to me, is that if you pull together the Vital Signs from Vancouver and compared it to Melbourne, you’ll see really similar upsides and downsides. The upsides are our diversity, our culture and economic prosperity. But the challenges we’re still working on around affordability [and youth unemployment], is a shared experience in cities like Toronto and Vancouver back home.”
“We’re encouraged by our conversations with our Australian counterparts, that we can likely soon go beyond talking with each about these problems… and enter a relationship where we begin to work and act together on these global issues that impact our local experiences.”