Australia’s most cultural city, Melbourne has claimed the title of the World’s Most Liveable City for the 7th consecutive year but who is it really liveable for?
The Economist Intelligent Unit (EIU) scores 140 cities around the world out of 100 in terms of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. This ranking is used by international companies looking to invest to determine which locations around the world provide the best or worst living conditions.
In part Melbourne scores highly because it is mostly removed from the increased threat of worldwide terrorism which is increasing security concerns especially in Europe, and it is less affected by increased global diplomatic tensions.
Dr. Crystal Legacy from the University of Melbourne in Urban Planning says that while Melbourne likes to “celebrate” its top score, “the ranking is highly problematic” and does not account for issues the city is facing such as “housing affordability and access to jobs and services”.
“When we talk about liveability, the question we have to ask ourselves is who is it liveable for? Who is benefitting in our city and who’s losing?
“And those are really essential questions, that I think we gloss over and we’re too quick to celebrate the ranking.
“The benchmarks are really quite low”, says Dr Legacy.
She pointed to the dramatic increase in homelessness. Melbourne, despite being ‘most liveable’ has had a 74 per cent increase over two years in homelessness.
Rates revealed during Homelessness Awareness Week between August 7-13 2017 estimated that there are more than 22,000 people in Melbourne experiencing homelessness.
“If we are truly liveable, we are liveable for all people,” Cr. Nicolas Frances Gilley said.
Councillor Nicolas Frances Gilley chairs the Transport portfolio at the City of Melbourne, and ran a homelessness organisation in the United Kingdom for ten years, providing employment opportunities to homeless people, where he received an MBE award.
“The thing about working with homeless people and changing the situation is it’s really complicated,” Cr Frances Gilley said.
Cr Frances Gilley says that this homelessness crisis is not something that has occurred over night but over a period of “twenty years”.
“It becomes the city’s issue, but it’s the state’s problem, the country’s problem and so dealing with that is complicated and a big part of that is how do we support people who are mentally ill, and we do it poorly.
“As a Council we do a bunch of things every day, we go out, we speak to the people, we coordinate the services, meeting once a week to talk about what’s going on in the city and how can we help.
“All of that goes on, but it’s not enough to solve the problem. We will have a homelessness problem, while as a country we don’t deal with enough housing and with better care for people with mental illness.
“But with the best city in the world, we don’t have the resources to fix it.
“There’s always more we can do, while there are people out there living on the street. But this is not a city issue, but a societal issue. It’s how we care about each other”, concludes Cr. Frances Gilley.
The Lord Mayor of the City of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, says that this is the first time a single city has held the title on its own for that period of time.
“This world record is an amazing feat that all Melbournians should be extremely proud of…we are a great all-rounder”, says the Lord Mayor.
When faced with Melbourne’s increasing homelessness rates, the Lord Mayor said “no world city has solved the issue of homelessness.”
“The $2 million Pathways Innovation Package was endorsed by Council on 20 December 2016,” said the Lord Mayor.
Included in this $2 million investment are:
- Daily support team ($350,000)
- Night Time Safe Space ($300,000)
- HomeGround real estate ($150,000)
- Senior Housing Advisor (Council funded position)
Salvation Army Major Brendan Nottle is a 53-year-old homelessness advocate, who set off on a gruelling 40-day walk to campaign for a national response to the crisis last Friday 8 September.
— Brendan Nottle (@brendannottle) September 8, 2017
A petition calling for a national response is also being organised by The Salvation Army.
Homelessness is a complex issue, with many factors contributing to the increase, and therefore there is no obvious long-term solution.
However, support from the Council and residents paired with local, state and national responses are needed to stop this cycle of homelessness and make Melbourne the most liveable city for ALL people.