Gong not family friendly, survey shows

Wollongong lags behind 20 other Australian cities for family friendliness, ranking 21st in a study of the nation's 30 biggest cities and towns.

The region performed well when it came to childcare, education and crime, but was rated in the bottom five cities for health and unemployment.

Suncorp Bank compared factors such as unemployment, crime rates, access to health services, schools, childcare, volunteer work, house prices and disposable income in Australia's 30 most populous cities to produce a family friendly cities index.

Wollongong ranked second best in childcare, with just 42 infants aged 0-4 per childcare centre.

This compared with 81 children per centre in Newcastle, 148 in Sydney and 292 children per centre in the lowest ranked city, the Gold Coast.

Wollongong's crime rate was also relatively low, with the city ranking ninth best, having 6323 instances of criminal activity per 100,000 people over a 12-month period.

However, residents visited the doctor an average 5.9 times over a year compared with just 1.3 visits in top-ranking Burnie, and only 65.5 per cent of Illawarra residents had a very good or excellent long-term health outlook.

Campbelltown couple Helena and Kristof Bocian visit Wollongong once a month with their two-year-old son Sebastian and said they were surprised by the city's low family-friendly rating.

"I think it's a family friendly place, because whenever you look around everyone is out with their families and out and about enjoying the lifestyle," Mrs Bocian said.

However, Mr Bocian said he knew lower income levels and high unemployment were likely to affect the rating, and suggested the region consider introducing more healthy food outlets to improve its health ratings.

Nevertheless, he said he would consider moving to the region if it wasn't so far from his job in Sydney.

"It's more family friendly than the city and there seems to be more families here - it would be easier to spend more quality time," he said.

"If it wasn't for my job I would move here quite quickly."

Launceston was rated the most family-friendly city overall, despite having some of the lowest incomes and poorest broadband internet levels.

Coffs Harbour on the North Coast was rated the least family friendly, while Newcastle was ranked 18th and Sydney came in at 23rd.

HOW THE GONG WAS RATED

Overall: 21st out of 30

Crime rate per 100,000 – 6323 (9th)

Number of visits to GP services per resident – 5.9 (25th)

Number of children at each school – 494 (8th)

Average cost of a house – $397,000 (19th)

Level of unemployment – 6.9% (25th)

Residents with good long-term health outlook + 65.5per cent (26th)

Median weekly disposable income – $652 (22nd)

Households with access to broadband internet – 66.9per cent (14th)

Children per childcare centre – 42 (2nd)

Residents who volunteer – 16.9per cent (22nd)

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