Enabling active living

What we want to achieve between 2020 and 2025

  • More adults and children using active modes of transport
  • More people participating in sport and active recreation and meeting the national physical activity guidelines across all stages of life

A focus on active living

Active living is about moving more and integrating physical activity into daily routines. 

Active living has a range of health benefits including helping to prevent chronic disease and maintain a healthy weight. Even small increases in physical activity and movement can have long term benefits for health and wellbeing. 

Getting enough physical activity throughout life is important because it can help to prevent conditions like cognitive decline, osteoporosis and other chronic diseases in later years. 

The ACT Government recognises that our local environments need to support people of all ages and abilities to be active.

While Canberra has many facilities that support active living, the city’s low density and dispersed nature means private vehicles are still the main form of transport.

The ACT Government continues to deliver initiatives and infrastructure that aim to make it easier for people to be active in their daily lives including through active travel (such as walking, cycling or using public transport) and participation in sport and recreation.

Key population health measures

The percentage of people meeting physical activity requirements is the main population health measure for the enabling active living priority area. 

In 2021, the percentage of people in the ACT who met Australian Physical Activity Guidelines was:

  • 80.4% for those aged 18 to 24
  • 74.5% for those aged 25 to 44
  • 66.7% for those aged 45 to 64
  • 62.9% for those aged 65 and over.

The percentage of adults aged 18 and over who met physical activity guidelines increased from 65.9% in 2011/12 to 70.8% in 2021. The percentage of children aged 5 to 17 years who met physical activity guidelines remained stable going from 24% in 2011/12 to 23% in 2021. 

Other relevant population health measures reported on HealthStats in the ACT include: 

  • active travel
  • self-rated physical activity
  • screen time
  • sedentary behaviour.

This priority area aligns with the Health domain of the Wellbeing Framework, in particular the overall health and healthy lifestyle indicators. This priority area also aligns with the:

Activities delivered under the first action plan

Kids at Play Active Play

The Kids at Play Active Play program was designed to help early childhood educators feel confident to promote active play and teach fundamental movement skills to children aged 3 and up in early childhood settings.

Between 2020 and 2022, almost 300 educators completed the Kids at Play Active Play online professional learning course. Almost 150 educators attended Kids at Play Active Play educator training. About 50 leaders attended the online Kids at Play Active Play leaders training. 

Active Play visits were delivered with more than 20 priority early childhood and education centres. These practical ‘hands on’ skills sessions aimed to help educators to apply the learnings from the educator training in their classes. 

The educator program and online course renewed their Teacher Quality Institute Accreditation in December 2021. 

School programs to promote physical activity

The ACT Government delivers a number of programs under the School Safety Program to support walking and riding to school, including the:

  • Ride or Walk to School (Safe Cycle) program which supports schools by providing access to the Safe Cycle curriculum resource, sets of loan bikes and event management support 
  • School crossing supervisor program where people direct traffic at busy crossings near schools to help children cross the road 
  • It’s Your Move program that provides high school students with an opportunity to develop creative solutions to improve school health
  • ACT Active Streets for Schools program which makes it safer and easier for children to ride or walk to school by delivering infrastructure improvements around schools and educational campaigns. 

Infrastructure improvements around schools 

As part of the School Safety Program, the ACT Government works closely with schools, parents and the community to deliver infrastructure improvements around schools. 

Improvements focus on increasing safety and supporting students to walk and ride to school or use public transport. They have included new and improved footpaths, new crossings and traffic calming measures to make school environments safer.

It’s Your Move Outdoor Environment Project

The It’s Your Move Outdoor Environment Project constructed co-designed outdoor spaces at Caroline Chisolm School including a mountain bike track completed in 2022. Construction of an adventure-style nature playscape will begin in 2023. 

A how-to-guide for ‘creating a community bike track at your school’ was completed for other schools who may wish to implement similar projects. 

Path renewal program

As part of the Jobs for Canberrans initiative since 2020, ACT Government has increased inspection and assessment of the community path network to help identify locations for path renewal. 

The path renewal program has guided the improvement of existing paths to keep them maintained and in good condition which supports active travel.

Nature Play Canberra

Nature Play Canberra is an ACT Government initiative which aims to support children and families to find opportunities for active play in the outdoor environment. 

In 2020, the ACT Government and stakeholders delivered a variety of on-Country health and wellbeing activities facilitated on Ngunnawal Country. Key initiatives include cultural lore restoration activities for Ngunnawal elders, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth culture programs and traditional celebrations led by Ngunnawal first nations people.

In 2022, close to 2,000 Nature Play Passport booklets containing Nature Play missions and suggestions on place to go and things to do outdoors were distributed to families, Early Learning Centres and Schools. 

Nature Play Grants Program

The Nature Play Grants Program provides grants to organisations to support participation in active lifestyles by delivering outdoor recreation, play and adventure programs and services. Between 2020 and 2022, 17 community organisations received a total of $109,830 in nature play grant funding. 

Community bike repair stations

Community bike repair stations were installed by the City Renewal Authority in various locations around the city to assist cyclists with minor bike repairs and encourage Canberrans to make cycling their preferred mode of transport. 

Active Travel Plan 

Community consultation on the draft Active Travel Plan was completed in 2022. The plan outlines several key actions to encourage active travel through walking, cycling and other types of micromobility options such as e-scooters. 

In 2022, e-scooter services were expanded across all of Canberra’s town centres, providing the biggest e-scooter operating area in Australia.

A Design Guide has been developed to support the Active Travel Plan by setting out best practice guidance on the design of safe and people-friendly streets that will support walking and cycling in key parts of our city. The guide will be released in 2023.

Female Friendly Change Rooms initiative

A stimulus package has supported change room upgrades at sporting facilities across Canberra to align with the ACT Government’s Female Friendly Change Rooms @Sporting Facilities guidelines.  

The upgrades provide a welcoming space for all athletes and include lockable shower cubicles, power points for accessories, individual toilet cubicles, privacy considerations and shelving in appropriate locations.

Between 2020 and 2023, Transport Canberra and City Services upgraded more than 20 sportsground pavilions to better meet the needs of women and girls involved in a range of sports. 

Ngunnawal EPSDD Action Plan

The Ngunnawal Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD) Action Plan aims to provide outcomes for Ngunnawal and ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through delivering actions relating to the core focus of areas of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement 2019-2028. 

This involves partnering across government to deliver health and wellbeing activities on Ngunnawal Country managed by EPSDD.

Slower streets

Canberra’s suburban streets experienced a walking and cycling boom during the COVD-19 restrictions in 2020 when more people were exercising and living locally in their streets. 

Slower Streets was a temporary initiative developed in 2020 in partnership with walking and cycling groups. It was delivered by self-nominating residential organisations and networks to encourage people to slow down and look out for their neighbours. 

At the start of 2021, 20 suburbs were involved including Ainslie, Aranda, Barton, Braddon, Canberra Lakes Estate Belconnen), Crace, Downer, Farrer, Garran, Gowrie, Hackett, Kingston, Macquarie, Monash, O’Connor, Throsby, Turner, Watson, Weston and Yarralumla. 

Haig Park Place Plan

The Haig Park Place Plan sets out a long-term vision for making Haig Park more inviting and useable while retaining its heritage and biodiversity values. 

The plan includes adding sustainable new amenities to Haig Park to increase community connectedness and promote recreation and physical activity. The City Renewal Authority is implementing this plan including a program of activations.

Programs funded through the Healthy Canberra Grants

The Healthy Canberra Grants funded a range of grants were provided to community programs aimed at enabling active living between 2020 and 2022: 

  • Warehouse Circus was funded $149,154 for 2020/21 for the Circus for Health – Schools Spin Out Extension Program, a community-based circus therapy and nutrition program for young people in the ACT with complex and multiple disabilities. 
  • Bluearth Foundations was funded $123,585 for 2020/21 for the Meet and Move program that aims to connect parents/carers and children with opportunities to play in their local environment. 
  • The Woden School was funded $59,160 for the Stronger Us program which is a whole school community program primarily focused on creating an environment that provides healthy nutrition and physical activity opportunities.
  • MARSS Australia was funded $82,368 for the Healthy Eating and Active Living program, a nutrition education and physical activity program for migrants and refugees from various culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. 

Over $1.5 million was awarded across 9 community organisations through the Healthy Canberra Grants: Focus on Supporting Healthy and Active Living for Children and Young People round announced in 2022. Recipients included programs that aim to enable active living such as the Lyneham Community Association’s Active Travel to School in Lyneham program to reduce barriers to cycling to school in Lyneham.

A total of $380K was awarded across 10 community organisations through the Healthy Canberra Grants: Reconnection within Priority Populations round announced in 2022. Recipients included programs such as University of Canberra’s ‘AllOffBall’ program that aims to provide safe places for ACT lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) people to participate in sport. 

Page last updated on: 8 Dec 2023