The Role of Social and Physical Environments with Older Adults´ Social Interactions in Melbourne

Piret Veeroja - PHD Completion Seminar

Japanese Room, Level 4, MSD Building


The social environment and the physical environment at the neighbourhood level have been linked to social interactions in different urban populations. However, there is currently no clear understanding of the relative strength and nature of this relation. This research seeks to better understand this relationship in older adults (i.e. people aged 55 years and above). Older adults´ perceptions of social interactions, social environment and physical environment in six Metropolitan Melbourne Local Government Areas (LGAs) were obtained from CSIRO Survey of Community Wellbeing and Responding to Change. The survey participants addresses were geocoded, and the objective physical environment was measured in their neighbourhoods. Using mediation analysis, it was found that the perceived social environment measures were stronger predictors of both social interaction frequency and satisfaction than objective measures of the physical environment. Face-validation with older adults and LGA representatives supported that finding, and future research should consider the quality of the physical environment as or more important than the presence, absence, amount or proximity of objective features of the urban environment. These findings provide valuable insights into older adults’ social interactions and contribute to planning policy and practice to support ageing-in-place.


Piret completed her MSc in Urban Planning and Management at Aalborg University, Denmark and MSc in Real Estate Planning in Estonian University of Life Sciences, and has since worked as an urban planner and researcher in Estonia. She commenced her PhD in June 2014 at the University of Melbourne.

Presented by Piret Veeroja.
PhD Graduate Researcher
Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning


Dr Jennifer Day


  • Professor Christopher Pettit
  • Professor Greg Foliente
  • Dr Hannah Badland

Advisory Committee:

  • Dr Jennifer Day
  • Dr Rod McCrea