Family, friendly ... yes, it’s the Border

ALBURY-WODONGA is the nation’s fourth-most family friendly place.

The Suncorp Bank report used Australian Bureau of Statistics data to create a list of 30 family friendly places.

THE LIST: Click here to see where every city was ranked

The Border was included for its “distinctive natural beauty” and metropolitan lifestyle in a rural setting.

Australia’s 30 biggest cities and regional areas were ranked against 10 key criteria including unemployment levels, crime rates, broadband in the home, access to health services, schools, childcare, volunteer work, house prices and disposable income.

Launceston ranked first overall, followed by Canberra, Toowoomba and then Albury-Wodonga.

The Border was third in housing accessibility and sixth for having the least crowded schools and for population percentage of volunteers in the community.

Wodonga father Rob Chippindall champions the Border’s family-friendly status.

The 30-year-old moved to the region from Melbourne when he was 10, went back to the city at 18, then lived in Sydney before coming back to his home town to raise his first child.

Now, he won’t live anywhere else.

“I didn’t really like the city and liked the smaller-type country towns,” Mr Chippindall said.

“I just thought ‘yeah, I may as well move back here and raise my daughter’.”

His daughter Hannah is three, he and his partner have another child on the way and are raising two children from a previous relationship.

Mr Chippindall, who works at Upper Murray Seeds, said he’s confident the Border has all the opportunities for his children.

He was at Oddies Creek Park with the children yesterday, as were the McDonald family from Ballarat.

They are on the Border to visit the children’s grandfather in hospital.

Mum Tammy McDonald said after their experiences at the hospital and a chemist, her nine-year-old daughter Jaymie wants to move.

“She said ‘Mum, we should move to Albury-Wodonga. Everyone is so friendly’,” she said.

The friendliness is what has kept mother Samara Stewart, 23, in Wodonga.

“It’s peaceful, there’s no real drama, there’s lots of things you can do with your kids and most of the people are friendly,” she said.

She said the best things for families were Lake Hume, Harvey’s Fun Park, Oddies Creek and parks in Wodonga.

The ranking was no surprise to Albury mayor Alice Glachan, who moved back to her home town in 2001 after a stint in England.

“We wanted a community where our children would be offered all of the opportunities of a city but we were confident that we would still have the community feel,” she said.

Wodonga mayor Mark Byatt said the criteria for the study was narrow but it reflected the work councils on both sides of the border had been doing to make it a family friendly region.

“I’m not sure we can draw too many conclusions from the report but in general terms it does support an increased focus on developing and growing,” Cr Byatt said.

“We can’t keep focusing on growing our metropolitan cities ... we need to, see regional cities like Albury-Wodonga as part of policy platforms.”

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