Community wellbeing in the ACT

Jurisdiction: Australian Capital Territory

How should we measure and track the wellbeing of our community as a whole?

The ACT Government uses wellbeing as a key factor when developing its priorities and budget investments. What we measure as progress drives Canberra’s public conversation and frames the Government’s investment decision making. By using indicators of social progress as well as economic issues, we can form a clearer picture of how Government actions effect our people, businesses, places and systems.

• How can we improve the way we measure Canberra’s wellbeing?
• Are there different indicators or different data sources?
• How can we show changes in Canberra’s wellbeing in real time?

Those engaged in shaping public policy have always been concerned about maximising the welfare of our community or society as a whole, but measuring overall welfare is a complex and contentious topic.

Not so long ago, GDP and traditional measures of wealth were seen as the best proxies for overall welfare – if we could keep on increasing GDP and wealth, the assumption was that overall welfare would increase too.

This assumption has come under ever-increasing scrutiny over the last five decades, with the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 marking a major milestone in moving the debate on to social and environmental concerns.

Since then, academics and public policy makers have increasingly focussed on wider measures and outcomes frameworks for wellbeing, as reflected for example in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and its associated indicators.

The ACT Government released its own Wellbeing Framework and Indicators in 2021 to provide a way to measure progress in Canberra more broadly than traditional economic measures.

How do the different indicators of welfare ‘fit together’ and relate to overall social welfare? Are there some inevitable trade-offs? Are there ways in which we can measure or characterise the welfare of our community as a whole based on existing data, or are other approaches that go beyond data collection also important to develop a better understanding of the sum total of our community’s welfare? How would you go about doing this?

How can we develop a sense of wellbeing in the community in “real time” rather than waiting for annual updates? Are there other data or measures that could add to the analysis, such as crowdsourced information on responses to places in Canberra, or other novel measures around the experience of living in Canberra?

Eligibility: Must use at least one ACT Government data set, either from the Open Data Portal ( or the Geospatial Catalogue (

Entry: Challenge entry is available to all teams in Australia.

Dataset Highlight

Geospatial Data Catalogue

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ACT Government Open Data Portal

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Wellbeing Measures Dataset

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Challenge Entries

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