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Don’t Shoot the Messenger
Naturally 2006 Census data is used, as it is the most reliable small area data available, but what is of interest is that the ABS has its own Socio Economic Index for Areas (SEIFA) based on the census and part of this is used in the creation of the My Schools ICSEA.
The ICSEA uses 15 of the 35 ABS SEIFA variables to create its Index mainly because SEIFA is not designed specifically for use within education. Instead the SEIFA compares suburbs. So instead of My School, it is more My Suburb.
The SEIFA indexes are rankings. Each index ranks different geographic areas of Australia according to a ‘score’ that is created for the area based on characteristics of people, families and dwellings within that area.
It is used by both government and private organisations in ways such as targeting areas for business or services, ‘demographic profiling’, strategic planning, design of sample surveys, and social or economic research. A roundabout way of saying, to find out who needs what, where.
Of course you cannot just rank a suburb on how many Mercedes Benz’s are parked in driveways. Just how does the ABS work out what’s a disadvantage and what’s an advantage? The answers may surprise you.
Measures of Disadvantage
Surely how much you earn (or in this case don’t earn) would be the best indicator to use? Not so, grasshopper. It’s actually whether or not you have a post-school qualification. Next most significant indicator of disadvantage is being without an internet connection. Finally, low income comes in as the third most important indicator.
Other major indicators of disadvantage are working as a labourer, paying low housing rent and having a long-term health condition.
Now if you’re reading this and are a lowly paid labourer without qualifications, renting cheaply, feeling a bit crook and with no internet connection, don’t get discouraged. These indicators are, well, indicators. They don’t factor in things like money in the bank, lifestyle, love or happiness.
Measures of Advantage
At the other end of the measurement scale however, money does seem to matter, high income being ranked the most significant indicator of advantage, followed by having an internet connection and being a “Professional”. Interestingly paying a high rent is rated as more of an indicator of advantage than paying a high mortgage. Go figure.
Jacob's Ladder - Perth
So where is your suburb ranked?
The ABS has released a ‘league table’ for both the top 20 most Advantaged and the top 20 most Disadvantaged, Statistical Local Areas or (SLAs) in Australia. You may be happy to know that WA has no SLAs in the most Disadvantaged table and 2 SLAs in the most Advantaged table. It is probably no surprise to most that they are the shire of Peppermint Grove (number 9) and the town of Cottesloe (number 17).
Of course if you wish to look at the full list, or want to check out any information relating to SEIFA you can see it all on our website:
Maybe the real question is not about advantage and disadvantage, but one of happiness. Possibly we should do what the nation of Bhutan has done and bring in a ‘Gross National Happiness’ Indicator which defines quality of life as measured in more holistic and psychological terms. Perhaps one day in the future you may see the question, ‘Are you Happy?’ appear on the census form. We’ll see.
In the meantime SEIFA data will continue to be used in conjunction with other data like Naplan or Health Data as in the above graph, as a way of measuring well…us.
So what are the top 5 ranked suburbs in WA according to SEIFA?
After all the furore caused by My School, if you think I’m going to print them here you need your head read….then perhaps ranked!
Article by Phil Smythe, Client Liaison Unit - Rates himself as pretty happy by all accounts.
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