Conference paper
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This paper provides a theoretical and operational overview of a new integrated urban sustainability assessment framework named as Local area Envisioning and Sustainability Scoring system (LESS). LESS allows the monitoring, mapping and measurement of indicators from four fields of relevance to local government areas: environment, socio-economic, infrastructure and governance. The assessment of chosen indicators is conducted by taking into account the priorities and aspirations of a local government. The framework is used to create a unifiedweighted index (on a scale of 0 to 10) to indicate the state of “health” of each field, in addition to a combined ranking taking into account all four fields. The framework is based on DriversPressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) concept. The basic premise behind this concept is that environmental changes are brought about by drivers, and caused by pressures. These changes impact communities as they interact with the demographic, social and economic factors that influence human well-being. In turn, communities respond with measures for mitigating and adapting to environmental changes. LESS is aimed to be a simple, flexible and customisable assessment framework.


The State of Australian Cities (SOAC) national conferences have been held biennially since 2003 to support interdisciplinary policy-related urban research.

This paper was presented at SOAC 4 held in Perth from 24 to 27 November 2009.

SOAC 4 was hosted by the University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University and Murdoch University and held at The University of Western of Australia’s Crawley campus.SOAC 4 was a collaborative venture between colleagues from the planning, geography and related disciplines across the four public universities.

The meta-theme of this conference - city growth, sustainability, vitality and vulnerability – sought to capture the dynamic and complex nature and contexts in which Australian cities find themselves in the early 21st century.

The last decade or so has seen Australian cities and many of their residents benefit from significant economic prosperity. With this economic prosperity, largely on the back of a resources boom, Australian cities and resources and mineral-rich regions, particularly in Queensland and in WA, have been subjected to profound demographic, social, economic, environmental and political changes. In the wake of the so-called ‘global financial crisis’ we have witnessed the rise of what might be called ‘neo-Keynesianism’ as various liberal democratic nations have pumped billions of dollars into their national economies via ‘bail outs’ or a stimulus package’ in an effort to stave off economic recession. The economic prosperity and more recent uncertainty that has been experienced in the last decade provides a fascinating and dare we say it a timely backdrop to critically reflect on the condition of urban Australia.

All published papers have been subject to a peer reviewing process.

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