A localised picture of disadvantage: SEIFA rankings for SA2s

A localised picture of disadvantage: SEIFA rankings for SA2s

In this blog, Glenn looks at how local areas (SA2 geography) rank on the recently-released SEIFA index for advantage and disadvantage.

The SEIFA data came out last week, and it provides a lot of information about how areas in Australia rank in their level of socio-economic advantage and disadvantage.

While it doesn’t tell you everything about an area, SEIFA is useful to get a quick overview and target areas for particular services, apply for grants to assist with building facilities etc. The lower the score on the SEIFA index, the more disadvantaged an area, the higher the score the more advantaged or less disadvantaged.

In this blog I’ll go through some of the highest and lowest scores in Australia on the Advantage/Disadvantage index, and look at what contributes to them.

Unlike my previous post, which looked at the highest ranked, lowest ranked (and most average) Local Government Areas, this time we’ll look at the rankings by SA2s (a statistical geography that represents a community  that interacts together socially and economically), which are less variable in size, and so provide a more even spread, less prone to outliers.

The disadvantage of this geography is that local users don’t necessarily relate to these boundaries and the names don’t always reflect the suburbs or towns they relate to, however there are approximately 2,200 of these areas across Australia, so they provide a good spread of areas at a finer level of detail than LGA.

Top 10 most advantaged areas (SA2 level), 2016

Forrest (ACT) 1184
Barton (ACT) 1180
Pymble (NSW) 1178
Duntroon (ACT) 1177
O’Malley (ACT) 1177
Floreat (WA) 1177
Wahroonga (East) – Warrawee (NSW) 1173
Forde (ACT) 1172
Crace (ACT) 1171
Fig Tree Pocket (Qld) 1170

These show the most concentrated areas of advantage in the country. The ACT is disproportionately represented – generally Canberra has the highest incomes and education levels of any Australian city – driven by its large number of public sector jobs. The others are in Sydney’s northern suburbs, plus one in the affluent western suburbs of Perth, and one in Brisbane. Generally these areas have large dwellings, high incomes, high proportion of home owners etc.

Of the top 100 most advantaged SA2s in Australia, 43 are in NSW (mostly northern and inner Sydney), 20 in the ACT, 15 in QLD, 13 in VIC, 7 in WA and 2 in the NT. Remarkably, the top 100 contains no areas in South Australia or Tasmania.

Top 10 most disadvantaged areas (SA2 level), 2016

Yuendumu – Anmatjere (NT) 604
Thamarrurr (NT) 605
Aurukun (Qld) 641
Yarrabah (Qld) 651
Sandover – Plenty (NT) 667
West Arnhem (NT) 670
Palm Island (Qld) 673
Tanami (NT) 673
Barkly (NT) 693
Gulf (NT) 695

The 10 most disadvantaged SA2s in Australia are all remote indigenous communities in Queensland and the NT. Note that Indigenous status is NOT included as one of the driving characteristics in the SEIFA index. The main drivers of the level of disadvantage in these communities is low incomes, overcrowded dwellings and low education levels. It’s certainly the case that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people do live in more disadvantaged areas, but the identification with this group is not in itself an explanatory variable.

Among the 100 most disadvantaged SA2s in Australia, 30 are in QLD, 16 in NSW, 14 in NT, 13 in TAS, 12 in SA, 9 in VIC, and 6 in WA.

Looking at this distribution – Victoria, as our second largest state by population, features quite low in the top 100 list and also low in the bottom 100. This shows that the distribution of socio-economic status in Victoria is more even than in other states, with more areas towards the middle of the distribution and fewer extremes of wealth or poverty.

Not that there aren’t these extremes, but it’s not as prevalent as in NSW, for example. Tasmania and the Northern Territory both stand out as having a disproportionate number of their SA2s in the highly disadvantaged list. There are only 101 SA2s in Tasmania and 71 in the NT in total.

The most average areas (SA2 level), 2016

Kirwan – West (Qld)
Picton – Tahmoor – Buxton (NSW)
Ararat Region (Vic)
Parkwood – Ferndale – Lynwood (WA)
Maroochy Hinterland (Qld)
Wagga Wagga – East (NSW)
Kyneton (Vic)
Riverside (Tas)
Balgownie – Fairy Meadow (NSW)
Taigum – Fitzgibbon (Qld)
Mount Barker (SA)
Gordon (Vic)
Laverton (Vic)

These SA2s all have a SEIFA score of exactly 1,000 – which is defined as the mean for the index at the SA1 level. They aren’t quite in the middle of the rankings at SA2 level. That distinction falls to the SA2 of Braidwood, NSW (east of Canberra), which has a SEIFA score that puts it just below the distribution average, at 997. This shows that small population SA2s are slightly more likely in the rankings to be in the more disadvantaged ranges.

Across the 100 most average SA2s, Victoria has by far the largest share with 30 of them. 24 are in Qld, 20 in NSW, 12 in WA, 6 in SA, 4 in NT and 4 in Tas. This backs up the previous analysis, that Victoria is generally more average than other states, with fewer extremes of wealth or poverty.

Soon we will have the SEIFA for 2016 loaded on our and tools so you will be able to see all the details for each Local Government Area and the small areas (including custom boundaries) within it.  Keep up to date by subscribing to product updates here.

.id is a team of population experts who combine online tools and consulting services to help local governments and organisations decide where and when to locate their facilities and services, to meet the needs of changing populations. Access our local government area information tools here.

Glenn - The Census Expert

Glenn is our resident Census expert. After ten years working at the ABS, Glenn's deep knowledge of the Census has been a crucial input in the development of our community profiles. These tools help everyday people uncover the rich and important stories about our communities that are often hidden deep in the Census data. Glenn is also our most prolific blogger - if you're reading this, you've just finished reading one of his blogs. Take a quick look at the front page of our blog and you'll no doubt find more of Glenn's latest work. As a client manager, Glenn travels the country giving sought-after briefings to councils and communities (these are also great opportunities for Glenn to tend to his rankings in Geolocation games such as Munzee and Geocaching).

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