The Health, Place and Society research team generates scientific research to create healthier people and places to live and a fairer society. Our applied research is co-designed in partnership with stakeholders to effectively address critical urban and social issues facing our cities and towns within Australia and internationally. 

Our team works across research and translation with practical impact that informs change and advocacy to support health and wellbeing and reduce inequities. We are a multidisciplinary team that link geospatial methodologies, public health outcomes and urban planning and design. Through the development and application of liveability indicators we measure and monitor the social determinants of health using research evidence to support creation of a fairer society. The Group’s work draws on a rigorous platform of policy-relevant research and aims sharing knowledge with residents and decision makers to improve health and liveability within places across society. 

The Australian Urban Observatory (AUO) is located with the Health Place and Society research team. The AUO is a digital liveability planning platform that transforms complex urban data into easily understood liveability maps across the 21 largest cities of Australia. Liveability describes the intersection between public health and urban planning and indicators in the AUO map key liveability indicators to provide a clear understanding of the liveability of cities including identification of areas that support liveability and areas in need of future intervention. The Observatory provides information and understanding to support resource allocation, future policy and community action and support to create equitable, healthy and liveable places.  

Our current research areas include: 

  • Development of customised spatial liveability indicators to measure and monitor the social determinants of health, urban planning and sustainability,  
  • Neighbourhood features that support child development, 
  • Social determinants the minimise inequities for people with disability, 
  • Frameworks that support liveability in low-to-middle income cities and
  • Tools, training and resources for local governments and education providers.

Our applied research aims to create real-world impact with engaged and collaborative partners. We welcome discussions about new research partnerships, training and applied research projects.


Transport Health Assessment Tool for Brisbane (THAT-Brisbane)


THAT-Brisbane builds on THAT-Melbourne, a Planning Institute of Australia Award winning tool for measuring life-time health benefits from walking and cycling.

Changing Children’s Chances


Bringing together leading national and international child equity researchers to identify potential ways to reduce early developmental inequities in Australian children.

Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health

2017 (ongoing)

The Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health (CRE-DH) aims to identify cost-effective policies that improve the health of people with disabilities in Australia.

Regional Liveability

2018 (ongoing)

This project investigates the impacts on the lived experience of people in major Australian cities, focusing on the effects of land-use, diffuse air pollution, transport, urban heat and the interconnections between them.

Early delivery of equitable and healthy transport options in new suburbs


The project will produce evidence and tools to assist both the public and private sectors provide transport options to residents of Melbourne’s new suburbs as soon as they move in.

Measuring, monitoring, and translating urban liveability in Bangkok


RMIT urban health scholars will partner with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to develop and test a suite of open source liveability indicators aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals for the city of Bangkok.

Australian Urban Observatory

2020 (ongoing)

The Australian Urban Observatory launched in Feb. 2020. This ground-breaking digital platform is set to transform how we map liveability in Australia. Register now to view FREE liveability indicators across LGAs!

Communities for Walkability: A citizen science project to connect local spaces and place


Although much is known about walkability, physical activity and health in large cities, new research is needed to understand the unique context of walkability and health in small rural towns.

Understanding and planning for the health and wellbeing impacts of climate change in the City of Greater Dandenong and the Mornington Peninsula Shire

2021 (ongoing)

This project brings together researchers and practitioners planning for equitable health and wellbeing outcomes for all in the context of a changing climate.

Data to Decisions: Using big data and participatory methods for designing neighbourhoods that support equitable early childhood development


Does neighbourhood design make a difference to early childhood development (ECD)? This project connects urban design and planning disciplines with ECD to explore the impacts of where we live on young children and families.

Key People

Lead researchers

Professor Hannah Badland

Professor Hannah Badland

Deputy Director of the Centre for Urban Research

Professor Melanie Davern

Professor Melanie Davern

Director Australian Urban Observatory

Key Researchers

Professional Staff Members

Higher Degree Research Students

Related Content

News & Blog


THAT-Melbourne wins PIA Victoria Award for Excellence in Planning Research

15 December 2021

Two projects out of the Centre for Urban Research were recognised at last week’s 2021 PIA Victoria Awards for Planning Excellence.


State budget bounce-back: experts on where funding should go

13 May 2021

After undergoing the harshest lockdowns in the country, how should Victoria spend its budget to bounce back? RMIT academics share their expert view on where best to splash the cash for the state’s COVID-19 recovery.


Rethinking cities with ageing in mind

16 April 2021

From urban wellbeing and public health to urban planning and housing, RMIT researchers are helping to build age-friendly cities across Europe and Australia.