Canberra VitalSigns 2021

Published on 06 November 2021

Hands Across Canberra and The Snow Foundation have teamed up to support the annual Vital Signs report, research based on a global methodology designed to help identify our community’s successes and challenges. The study gathers data about health, education, employment, housing and belonging in Canberra.

For most people, Canberra is a great city to reside in. It boasts high education levels, has a high rate of 3-year-olds in pre-school, and has the highest weekly wages in Australia. Canberra also has high rates of participation in sport and physical activity. The majority of Canberrans agree with cultural diversity and are proud of First Nation cultures. With Covid-19 vaccinations, immunisation rates a high for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders. The ACT also has the highest life expectancy in Australia, despite most adults being overweight or obese.

But Hands Across Canberra charity partners will tell a different story, and startling statistics about life in the ACT will confirm what they already know; many of our neighbours do not live with these advantages, especially during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“There is much we can celebrate about this great city of ours,” says Hands Across Canberra CEO Peter Gordon when asked for his views. “Still, there is also much we need to do to ensure that those who experience economic and social disadvantage are not left behind and can participate in all our community has to offer. ”

Peter has highlighted some of the areas he thinks are a concern for Canberra:

  • Too many Canberrans are living in poverty, with 38% of people in poverty having paid employment
  • Too many of these Canberrans are children
  • Lack of affordable housing remains the most significant challenge confronting people on low incomes in the Canberra community with growing numbers of older women at risk of homelessness or homeless
  • Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are disproportionately represented in our jail and in out of home care
  • Our LGBTQA+ community continue to experience disadvantage and high levels of psychological distress
  • Too many others find life a constant struggle as much of their income is taken up with housing costs
  • The Covid-19 lockdown has created further stress on our community, in all areas, but pointedly with areas of belonging. The Vital Signs research has not yet included the impact of this.

Hands Across Canberra hopes that this Vital Signs 2021 Report will act as a catalyst to build community action and help determine where to focus attention and resources to have the greatest impact in addressing disadvantage in our community.



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