5.4 SOCIO-ECONOMIC DISADVANTAGE
Socio-economic disadvantage in terms of household income, employment, access to health and education services or social exclusion was identified as an issue for 45 RDA committees. While some committees reported high levels of socio-economic disadvantage across the whole region, most identified that particular local government areas or population groups experienced significant disadvantage. Some regions used the ABS’ Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) - which provide a ranking of relative socio-economic disadvantage - to describe the level of disadvantage in particular local government areas.
A problem raised by RDA committees in many regions was the entrenched and intergenerational disadvantage in some areas and among particular groups. It was often commented that people in these areas experienced barriers to education and workforce participation, poorer health outcomes, social exclusion and welfare dependency. Migrant and ethnic communities were commonly identified as disadvantaged groups who were in need of language and settlement services. It was also reported that young people from disadvantaged areas were more likely to experience drug and alcohol problems and homelessness.
Disadvantage in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities was a common issue. Many regions were concerned about the poor health outcomes, limited education and employment opportunities, lack of service access and inadequate supply of housing, water, nutrition and sanitation in these communities. The need to ‘close the gap’ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was often reported. RDA committees in many regions were concerned about a widening disparity between advantaged and disadvantaged areas, commonly between more affluent inner suburbs and outer areas of lower socio-economic status.
Several RDA committees discussed the need for better support for disadvantaged communities, recognising the need for place-based solutions and a greater number of homelessness services.