Community indicators

Community indicators

Measuring wellbeing

In response to a growing appreciation that there is more to being successful than just boosting economic output, we monitor a broad range of factors that contribute to community wellbeing and sustainability.

Collectively, the suite of indicators and measures we monitor make up the community indicators framework that helps us gauge progress towards Sydney 2030

Community indicators are used to develop social, cultural, environmental, governance and economic policy. They are sourced from a range of primary research efforts, such as City of Sydney surveys and records, and from secondary data repositories such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics census and NSW Health surveys.

Updates are collected on an ongoing basis and frequency varies from 6-monthly to 5-year periods, depending on the data source.  Data are compared against initial or ‘baseline’ measures and analysed for change over time.

Community indicators framework

The community indicators framework was developed in 2011 in partnership with the Institute for Sustainable Futures (University of Technology, Sydney) and the McCaughey Research Centre (University of Melbourne). It went on public exhibition in early 2012, was amended in response to public feedback and adopted by Council later that year.

The community indicators project is based on comprehensive research and international best practice. It is closely aligned with similar projects at other local councils, the Victorian and Queensland state governments and the Commonwealth government. 

You can download the framework and background report.

2016 report

Community Wellbeing Indicators 2016 is a report with 2 functions:

  • First, as a critical evidence-base on changing trends and issues affecting the community over time that can inform policy development and service provision investment planning.
  • Second, as a source-book, highlighting primary datasets managed by the City itself and linking readers to the widely-distributed secondary sources used.

The report is not a scorecard for any particular service, policy or agency function.

Around 25% of measures in the report are primary data that are not reported elsewhere – mostly collected via the City's residents survey 2011 and its follow-up wellbeing survey 2015. Secondary data in the 2016 report mostly come from open-data repositories and reports from agencies such as NSW Health, Department of Education, Australian Bureau of Statistics and the City itself.

The report addresses 88 indicators, using 216 of the most recently available statistics to assess programs towards 108 targets. All but 4 measures include a baseline and at least 1 update. Half have time-series back as far as 2006. City subject-matter experts have vetted and verified data in the 2016 report and have endorsed the concise format and brevity of interpretation. Measures are grouped into 4 domains:

  1. healthy, safe and inclusive communities
  2. culturally rich and vibrant communities
  3. democratic and engaged communities
  4. dynamic and resilient local economies. 

Domain 5 of the framework (sustainable environments) will be included in future wellbeing indicator reporting, once measures have been methodically aligned with Environmental Action (2016–2021), the City's newly adopted environmental strategy and action plan.

You can download the Community Wellbeing Indicators 2016 report.


Mari Jaervis
Senior Research Officer
02 9265 9333

Last updated: Monday, 5 November 2018