24 AUG 2014 – 7:37AM
Australian cities consistently outrank other places in global liveability ratings.
Melbourne recently got the top spot in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index, out of 150 capitals. It’s the fourth time the city’s been named number one in that survey, and it was joined by Sydney, Adelaide and Perth in the top 10.
Melbourne rated highly in health care, education and infrastructure.
Melbourne is also Australia’s most culturally diverse city, with migrants, or those born to migrants, accounting for nearly half of all Victorians.
So what role did multiculturalism play in its “liveability”?
Jimmy Tsindos came from Cyprus as a teenager in 1957. He opened Tsindos Greek Restaurant in Melbourne’s Lonsdale St in the early 1980s. He said the variety of cultures and cuisine made Melbourne liveable.
“We started with Italian in Lygon Street, all the Italian restaurants and I think that was the beginning of really concentrating on the hospitality industry as a platform for spreading the word of ‘have a good life, have a good time, enjoy yourself.'”
The Global Liveability Index found average liveability had fallen, with some previously stable cities such as Ukraine’s Kiev and Syria’s Damascus down significantly in the ratings.
Local political instability also affected cities like Bangkok. Mid-sized cities with low population density scored highest, as those places fostered a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure.
Jimmy’s Tsindos’s nephew, Harry Tsindos, who took over Tsindos Restaurant, said Melbourne is a harmonious city. “You walk outside, and every race is there,” he said.
“Every race now is getting along with each other, other than a few bad apples.”
More than a quarter of Melbourne’s population was born overseas with Victorians speaking more than 260 languages and dialects, coming from 200 different countries and sharing 135 different faiths.
The Victorian Multicultural Commission’s Spiros Alatsas said multiculturalism is the state’s biggest strength.
“We have migrants that came out here in the early ’40s, early ’30s, settled here,” he said.
“Now we see a lot of emerging communities coming to Australia and, in particular, Melbourne and Victoria.”
Recent arrivals to Australia have included refugees and migrants from the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.
Ethiopian Abreha Asefa came as a refugee a decade ago.
He said recent immigration from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Nigeria and Sudan has been good for business in suburban Footscray. “”I like Melbourne. It has a huge African population, and my job is good, he said.
“I have two countries now, Australia and Ethiopia.”