Measuring Blacktown’s community sentiment


The Client

City of Blacktown

The Challenge

Capture Blacktown's community sentiment with a cost-effective methodology that can be communicated for use in strategic and community planning.


Living in Place captures a snapshot of Blacktown City's community sentiment and lived experience. It measures, analyses and compares the results in a powerful way. The survey is representative of Blacktown's communities and enables integration into community planning, strategic planning and regional policy making. Living in Place benchmarks findings to a region, Greater Capital City, State/Territory or Australia as a whole while illustrating trend changes over time. Council planners and decision makers can build a roadmap of community sentiment outcomes that require focus. Which aspects of living in Blacktown need to be worked on and which ones may not be relevant to the City's residents.


Living in Blacktown helps council understand: What themes residents value most? How residents feel their suburb performs across a range of themes? How responses differ geographically and by demographics?

The results are benchmarked locally and nationally and an annual undertaking of the survey will allow for understanding of changes to the lived experience of Blacktown residents over time. Council will use the findings from this project to make community planning and strategic planning decisions.

Need help putting it together? We can help. Contact us here.

We were very pleased to collaborate with Blacktown City Council and produce their first “Living in Place” report which is named “Living in Blacktown”. Blacktown City is located in Sydney’s western suburbs and has a population of almost 375,000. Blacktown City has a young, diverse, multicultural population and like many large inner-city municipalities, encounters different challenges and opportunities.

“Living in Blacktown” provides new insight into Blacktown’s communities by discovering what quality of life means to residents, what aspects of living in Blacktown are important and how quality of life attributes perform across the municipality.


The Living in Blacktown survey was conducted in 2019. It captured an adequate sample size and demographic spread across the City. For the first time, lived experience survey information could be benchmarked to the region, Greater Sydney and New South Wales.

Alongside some demographic questions about age, gender and diversity, respondents were asked two main questions which referred to a list of quality of life attributes:

  • Which quality of life attributes are most important to you?
  • How do you rate the performance of quality of life attributes in your community?

These quality of life attributes are listed here.

Living in Place results clearly outline which quality of life attributes are important to communities and perform well, which ones are important but do not perform well and also which ones are neither important nor performing well. This offers an informed focus on action and prioritising, especially if resources are scarce.

A council can further investigate results of Living in Place to understand why some aspects of community sentiment are more important to residents than others and why some perform better than others. Living in Place provides the ability to understand the community, dispel any preconceived ideas which may be incorrect and strengthen the confidence in investment of effort and resources.


What we discovered from Living in Blacktown was that it is a place where residents place most importance on feeling safe, as is also the case in Greater Sydney and New South Wales. Blacktown residents also value having affordable decent housing and a reliable public transport system.

Social cohesion is the best performing quality of life attribute in Blacktown. It performs better here than in any of the benchmark areas, including Australia. This is a real strength of Blacktown City and the council recognises social cohesion as vital to how communities cooperate and unite.

Compared to Greater Sydney, Blacktown City places more importance on safety, affordable housing and connectivity. On the other hand, Greater Sydney places more importance on access to high quality education and good job prospects than Blacktown.

As a result of this survey, we also have an understanding of how female residents’ quality of life experiences differ to males, how younger residents differ to older ones and how residents who speak another language at home experience living in Blacktown compared to English-only speakers.

Difference in responses by location provide valuable insight into the dynamics and spatial differences of the Blacktown City lived experience. Established suburbs such as Mount Druitt or Blacktown have vastly different quality of life responses than the more newly developed suburbs in the north such as Marsden Park, Shanes Park or Riverstone.

Using the Results in Decision Making

Different segments of the results and findings from Living in Blacktown provide council staff with a multifaceted view of their communities. As Living in Blacktown was being conducted, the council was undertaking their own community engagement survey and were pleased to be able to strengthen some of the findings from their own research with that of Living in Blacktown.

The results from this project can be used to inform Blacktown City’s local planning priorities (as stated in the Draft Blacktown Local Strategic Planning Statement), to assist in making Blacktown a place with sustainable growth, supported by essential infrastructure, efficient transport, a prosperous economy and equitable access to a vibrant lifestyle. It can help inform the Community Strategic Plan by helping define the community vision, measure progress, inform the council’s “Control-Influence-Concern” model and assess residents’ quality of life.

Finally, on a more regional scale, results from Living in Blacktown, especially once repeated over several years, can be directly implemented in “A Plan for Growing Sydney”, the NSW State Government Planning and Environment Department’s strategy for Sydney to be a great place to live with communities that are strong, healthy and connected.

Learn more about the Living in Place community survey and Views reporting platform.

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