1003.0 - LEP Newsletter (Issue No. 59), Nov 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/12/2006   
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SEIFA 2001 - Now free on ABS web site

Socio Economic Indexes for Areas, Australia 2001 is now available free of charge on the ABS web site. SEIFA consists of four summary measures, or indexes, derived from the 2001 Census of Population and Housing, to measure different aspects of socio-economic conditions by all Census geographic areas.

The 2001 Census of Population and Housing provides information on a broad range of social and economic aspects of the Australian population. Nearly 50 questions of social and economic interest are asked in the Census. People using census data are often not just interested in these items taken one at a time, but in an overview or summary of a number of related items. Statistical techniques are used to provide the SEIFA indexes.

There are four indexes:
  • Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage - A low index score indicates an area has many low income families and people with little training and in unskilled occupations.
  • Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage/Disadvantage - A higher index score indicates an area has attributes such as a relatively high proportion of people with high incomes or a skilled workforce. It also means an area has a low proportion of people with low incomes and relatively few unskilled people in the workforce.
  • Index of Economic Resources - This index reflects the economic resources of families within an area. The census variables summarised by this index reflect the income and expenditure of families such as income and rent. Variables such as dwelling size which indicate wealth are also included in this index.
  • Index of Education & Occupation - This index reflects the educational and occupational structure of communities. An area with a high score on this index would have a high concentration of people with higher education qualifications or undergoing further education, with a high percentage of people employed in more skilled occupations.
All Indexes have been constructed so that relatively disadvantaged areas have low index numbers.

To read more details on how the SEIFA indexes are calculated, please consult ABS Catalogue Number 2039.0, Information Paper, Census of Population and Housing, Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas, Australia, 2001.

The use of SEIFA indexes can be used for a range of research and business planning. For example a retail organisation wants to know where to set up a new boutique. The Index of Relative Socio Economic Advantage/Disadvantage could be used to pinpoint suburbs with high advantage, which will help the organisation to identify suitable locations. SEIFA 2001 Indexes are presented on the ABS web site by separate States. The ABS Catalogue Number is 2033.x.55.001 (x = State).