Illustration 5: Assessing the liveability of places

Curriculum overview

The Australian Curriculum: Geography and (its various HASS-based iterations) content descriptions addressed in the illustration are:

  • The factors that influence the decisions people make about where to live and their perceptions of the liveability of places
  • The influence of environmental quality on the liveability of places

Learning goals

The illustration-specific learning goals are:

  • explaining the meaning of 'liveability' and the factors that contribute to the liveability of places
  • assessing the relative liveability of places they are familiar with
  • working collaboratively with other students
  • collecting, recording and analysing data to determine the quality of a neighbourhood's constructed environment.

Geographical understanding and context

'Liveability' is defined as the qualities of a place (city, town, suburb, neighbourhood) that contribute to the quality of life experienced by residents and others. The relative liveability of places depends on the environmental and social quality of a place as perceived by residents, workers, customers and visitors to the area.

The factors people take into account include:

  • safety and health related issues (for example, personal security, public health, traffic safety)
  • local environmental conditions (for example, cleanliness, noise, dust, air and water quality)
  • the quality of social interactions (for example, community identity and pride, neighbourliness)
  • opportunities for recreation and entertainment
  • aesthetics
  • existence of unique cultural environmental characteristics (for example, historic structures, mature trees, traditional architectural styles, streetscapes).

Perceptions of liveability are largely determined by the condition of the 'public' space – those places where people interact with each other and the broader community. These spaces include streets, public transport interchanges, shopping centres, schools, cultural and religious institutions, parks and sporting facilities, and other public facilities.

The liveability of a place has a direct impact on the people who live in, work in, or visit an area. Areas seen as being popular places in which to live and work (that is, have high liveability) tend to have higher property values and levels of business activity as people compete to locate there. Neighbourhoods perceived to have low levels of liveability generally have cheaper housing because people are less likely to choose it as a place in which to live.

This illustration supports students to be able to identify and assess the elements of liveability that inform peoples' decisions about where to live.

Teaching approaches

This learning experience involves a series of sequential stages, each one providing a basis for the next.

  • Introducing the liveability concept

Introduce your students to the concept of 'liveability'. Have your class brainstorm the factors likely to influence peoples' perceptions of the relative liveability of places. Group each suggestion under one of the following headings:

  • environmental factors
  • social factors
  • cultural factors
  • economic factors
  • infrastructure factors.

As a class, develop a mind map summarising the findings of the brainstorming activity.

  • Developing a survey

Working in groups, have your class develop a liveability survey instrument. Alternatively, use the Neighbourhood liveability survey (PDF) provided.

  • Ranking the local area

Ask your students to individually rank the local neighbourhood, on the scale 1 to 5, using the criteria included in the Neighbourhood liveability survey(PDF) instrument.

Tally the scores to give the overall liveability ranking score. Working in groups, ask your students to:

  • compare their ranking with others in their group
  • agree on a group-based ranking of the listed criteria
  • compare their group’s ranking with that of other groups. How similar are they?
  • Moving further afield

Repeat Stages 3 and 4 based on other, nearby, neighbourhoods. Develop a ranking of neighbourhoods.

  • Checking other's perceptions

Give your students a copy of the Neighbourhood liveability survey (PDF) instrument to take home. Instruct them to ask their parents or caregivers to complete the survey. Tally and analyse the results. Are there any differences in the perceptions of liveability held by adults and the class?

  • Extension fieldwork-based activity

Investigate the quality of your neighbourhood's constructed environment using the three resources below.
Assessing the quality of the constructed environment survey: Activity sheet (PDF).
Quality of the constructed environment survey: Observation record sheet (PDF).
Neighbourhood assessment: Observation record sheet (PDF).

What you need

Digital cameras.
Whiteboard markers, whiteboard or butcher's paper.
Neighbourhood liveability survey (PDF).
Assessing the quality of the constructed environment survey: Activity sheet (PDF).
Quality of the constructed environment survey: Observation record sheet (PDF).
Neighbourhood assessment: Observation record sheet (PDF).

Curriculum connections

This illustration links with the content descriptions of the following Phase 1 Australian Curriculum.


  • Use comprehension strategies to interpret, analyse and synthesise ideas and information, critiquing ideas and issues from a variety of textual sources


  • Identify and investigate issues involving numerical data collected from primary and secondary sources
  • Calculate mean, median, mode and range for sets of data. Interpret these statistics in the context of data


  • Collaboratively and individually plan and conduct a range of investigation types, including fieldwork and experiments, ensuring safety and ethical guidelines are followed
  • Construct and use a range of representations, including graphs, keys and models to represent and analyse patterns or relationships, including using digital technologies as appropriate
  • Summarise data, from students’ own investigations and secondary sources, and use scientific understanding to identify relationships and draw conclusions  


  • Identify and describe points of view, attitudes and values in primary and secondary sources