Publication: Bendigo Advertiser
Author: Erin Handley
Bendigo has been named in the top 10 places in Australia to raise children, according to a new family friendly index. Suncorp Bank’s annual Family Friendly City Index found Bendigo one of the best places to raise a young family. Bendigo sat at number eight on the list – inching ahead of Melbourne in the number nine slot, with Wagga Wagga taking out top honours.
Darren and Nicole Reid said Bendigo was a great place to raise their three children Zahli, Millah and Baxter. The pair intended to live in the city for three years, but have now been here for 10. “It’s everything you need – it’s small enough to engage with people, and large enough to education opportunities,” Mr Reid said.
Bendigo Health employee Chris O’Brien said he moved to Bendigo for the work-life balance. He said time he would spend commuting to work in Melbourne was instead dedicated to spending time with his partner and his two-year-old daughter Imogen. He also said parks and safe play spaces for kids were a major community benefit.
City of Greater Bendigo manager of community partnerships Steven Abbott said the recognition reaffirms their work striving to make policy for the wellbeing of young people. “Free and low cost events such as the Bendigo Easter Festival and FunLoong Fun Day, our many play spaces and making access to facilities such as swimming pools as affordable as possible is greatly valued by the community,” he said. “We also can’t emphasise enough the contribution that people make when volunteering within the community.” The ranking follows the recent release of the council’s draft Municipal Early Years Plan for public comment, which focuses on giving children up to eight years old the best start in life. He also pointed out the local education sector and the “First Quarter” group were dedicated to making Bendigo a better place for youth. He said it was “pleasing” to make the list – a mixture of regional and metropolitan cities, and “wonderful” to be just ahead of Melbourne, which has been named the world’s most liveable city for the fifth year in a row.
Suncorp ranked cities according to employment levels, schools, volunteer work, health, road safety and family income levels.