For those who haven’t heard, Melbourne has been voted the World’s Most Liveable city by the Economist, for the fourth year in a row.
I wasn’t going to write about it as, in the past few days, it has been everywhere and perhaps everything has been said. In fact, it is impossible not to have an opinion. Today I was thinking about my life here and, I have to admit, I do feel pretty lucky. Melbourne is definitely a very liveable city.
Life in Melbourne is easy. People are generally happy and, on the surface, very friendly. It is not unusual to have a conversation with a total stranger when I walk the dog and shop assistants are, mostly, very helpful and polite. The streets are clean, they feel safe and the traffic is not bad if you compare it to the rest of the world. When you walk around you don’t see much poverty, there are very few beggars and the buildings are well looked after. There are good schools, good hospitals and good all around services.
My favourite thing about Melbourne is the strong sense of community. Even thought it is a very big city I have found that suburbs can have their own individual “village” feel. I guess in my case it started when I had children. In Italy people don’t tend to move a lot and they have families nearby to provide the support they need. Here a lot of people, like me, has no family around. This is where play groups, kindergartens and schools offer an opportunity to create your own support network. Over the years I have had the previlege to experience the community getting together to support people in need and I have found it extremely powerful and reassuring.
I live inner city, in a middle class suburb, where people have enough money to own their houses and do big renovations. The local state schools are full of parents wanting to help, they organise fund raising and help with maths and reading. Our kids have access to a lot of resources that kids in poorer, outer suburbs can only dream of. We have a good public transport system, we can get to the city by tram, train and even bus. But Melbourne still doesn’t have a train that goes to the airport and a lot of outer suburbs have to rely on cars to move around.
I have access to good doctors and never have to wait for more then a week if I need to see a specialist. I work for an organisation who supports women who are trying to sort out their life. One of the women I work with has been trying to access some drug and alcohol counselling for the past few months. She is desperately trying to get her life together. The waiting list for rehab is almost a year. The only counsellor we could find can see her every second week, if she is lucky to get a spot, there is no way of booking an appointment. More fundings have been cut.
I doubt she feels like she is living in the world’s most liveable city.
Life in Melbourne is easy. I sometimes feel like I live under a glass bell, everything is beautiful and safe in my world but when I walk outside I realise that, perhaps, there is a dark side even in the world’s most liveable city.