Melbourne, Australia is experiencing rapid population growth, with much of this occurring in metropolitan outer suburban areas, also known as urban growth areas. Currently little is known about differences in travel times when using private and public transport to access primary and secondary services across Melbourne’s urban growth areas. Plan Melbourne Refresh, a recent strategic land use document has called for a 20 min city, which is where essential services including primary health care, can be accessed within a 20 min journey. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a major chronic condition in Australia, with some of Melbourne’s growth areas having some of the highest prevalence across Australia. This study explores travel times to diabetic health care services for populations residing in inner, middle and outer suburbs of metropolitan Melbourne.
Geographic information systems (GIS) software were used to map the location of selected diabetic primary and secondary health care service providers across metropolitan inner, middle, outer established, outer urban growth and outer fringe areas of Melbourne. An origin-destination matrix was used to estimate travel distances from point of origin (using a total of approximately 50,000 synthetic residential addresses) to the closest type of each diabetic health care service provider (destinations) across Melbourne. ArcGIS was used to estimate travel times for private transport and public transport; comparisons were made by area.
Our study indicated increased travel times to diabetic health services for people living in Melbourne’s outer growth and outer fringe areas compared with the rest of Melbourne (inner, middle and outer established). Compared with those living in inner city areas, the median time spent travelling to diabetic services was between 2.46 and 23.24 min (private motor vehicle) and 12.01 and 43.15 min (public transport) longer for those living in outer suburban areas. Irrespective of travel mode used, results indicate that those living in inner and middle suburbs of Melbourne have shorter travel times to access diabetic health services, compared with those living in outer areas of Melbourne. Private motor vehicle travel times were approximately 4 to 5 times faster than public transport modes to access diabetic health services in all areas.
Those living in new urban growth communities spend considerably more time travelling to access diabetic health services – particularly specialists - than those living in established areas across Melbourne.