What is Vital Signs?
Vital Signs® gathers, collates and reports on data of significant social and economic significance in our community. Uniquely Vital Signs presents the information across a range of themes collectively in a simple to read, easily understood format published for all to see in the local newspaper. The report gives the community a snapshot of their quality of life and over subsequent reports will create an understanding of the impact of improvements in our community. It will also compare to other like cities or across the state to measure how we are performing comparatively. This gives us the opportunity to leverage the successful aspects of other communities in improving our own community's quality of life. It also promotes awareness of community issues and is used by communities for social planning. Vital Signs gives our community foundation, its donors, and the community-at-large valuable insight into the community's strengths, challenges and opportunities.
Based on a well established and highly regarded program conducted by Community Foundations in Canada, Vital Signs was initiated by the Toronto Community Foundation. It is highly successful and is viewed as a benchmark model. Vital Signs has been licensed in Australia to Australian Community Philanthropy Limited.
Ballarat's Vital Signs
The Ballarat Foundation has developed its own version of the Canadian model and uses publicly accessible and verifiable data in assessing our community's health. This is the first Vital Signs report for Australia, published on March 30th, 2011.
How it works
The ‘community report card’, is a compilation of data and research from numerous sources, which will help the community to make connections between issues and trends in different areas. key themes could include: Gap between Rich and Poor, Safety, Education/Learning, Health & Wellness, Work, Housing, Environment, Arts & Culture, and Getting Around.
Findings are be presented in a reader friendly format published in the Ballarat Courier, making the information assessable to the whole community. The local report card is intended to get people and organisations thinking about and discussing the next steps to build a better community.
On the release of subsequent reports the community will be able to quickly understand in which areas there is positive or negative movement. The release of the initial Vital Signs report card marks the beginning of a process, not the end.
About the report
The Ballarat Foundation has adopted the conceptual framework of Vital Signs for Ballarat and its region. The Foundation trusts that a regular evaluation of Ballarat's Vital Signs will provide the city and the region with signposts on the quality of life. As importantly it will provide the community, local and state government with a clear view of what we should celebrate and where we should as a community, be directing our energies.
Ballarat and its region
The publicly available data accessed for Vital Signs relates to a number of defined geographical areas such as Local Government Areas, Statistical Regions, Postcodes [3350 for Ballarat] and, in the Health area, Primary Care Partnership Levels. The Primary Care Partnership Level used was the Central Highlands
Ballarat and its region's Vital Signs are compiled from current statistics and other publicly available studies. The report draws heavily on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and from federal, state and local government departments. The study examines a number of issue areas, many of which are interconnected, and are considered to be central to the well-being of our city and region. We trust that this study deepens our understanding and is a valuable tool for residents, leaders and elected officials who develop the new ideas required to build a stronger city and region.
The Ballarat Foundation is indebted to many people who have assisted in the gathering and building Ballarat's Vital Signs with particular thanks to Emeritus Professor Wayne Robinson for his commitment, dedication and insight which has brought this report to completion.
The Ballarat Foundation acknowledges the assistance and support of the Ballarat Courier in publishing this report as a special editorial feature in the newspaper