THE Southern Grampians Shire has come out tops in a survey of the six shires in the Great South West region that evaluates both human and ecological wellbeing.
The University of Ballarat research project conducted in south-western Victoria over the past two years gave Southern Grampians the top ranking after it scored highest in human wellbeing but only fourth out of six in ecosystem wellbeing.
Human wellbeing indicators included factors such as unemployment rates, health and the percentage of 25-year-olds with a non-school qualification.
The ecosystem wellbeing ranking was based on factors such as soil health, stream condition and recycling measures.
The survey assessed both human and ecosystem indicators to help decision-makers develop strategies for a sustainable future.
The survey, known as the Great South West Community Report Card 2011, was developed by University of Ballarat researcher Dr Michelle Graymore through a project funded by the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s (DSE) Local Sustainability Accord program.
Dr Graymore said the survey revealed there were a number of areas where both human and ecosystem well-being needed to be enhanced across the region.
They included increasing the number of people with qualifications, improving access to public transport and reducing household waste.
The survey provides a basis for the shires and other local organisations to work together to enhance the region’s sustainability.
Dr Graymore said Southern Grampians Shire achieved the top human wellbeing ranking.
It had good scores in indicators such as community strength, employment diversity, access to doctors and housing affordability.
Its fourth out of sixth ranking in ecosystem wellbeing followed a high rating in biodiversity vulnerability and a low rating in the amount of waste recycled.
Colac Otway Shire was ranked second in the region with the third best human wellbeing and ecosystem rankings.
Indicators said the area’s native vegetation and stream condition were in relatively good condition and the shire had a relatively low violent crime rate and high employment diversity.
Warrnambool came in third in the region with the poorest ecosystem wellbeing but the second best human wellbeing.
High rates of education and low unemployment and healthy lifestyles contributed to Warrnambool’s second best human wellbeing ranking.
However, poor stream health and high vulnerability to impacts of climate change were among the factors that dragged down its ecosystem wellbeing to clearly the worst in the region.
Moyne was fourth with the fifth best ecosystem wellbeing and fourth for human wellbeing.
Corangamite and Glenelg were equal fifth, Corangamite with the second best ecosystem and the fifth best human wellbeing and Glenelg with the best ecosystem and the worst human wellbeing.
The Great South West Community Report Card will be launched in Hamilton from 11am on Wednesday, October 10, at The Bandicoot Room, Hamilton Institute of Rural Learning (HIRL).
The report card and technical report can be viewed at www.gswreportcard.org