156,000 Aus kids at risk of social exclusion: UC

156,000 Aus kids at risk of social exclusion: UC

Claudia Doman

15 March 2012: More than one in every 25 Australian children are at high risk of social exclusion because of where they live, new research from the University of Canberra has found.

Researchers at the University’s National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) have mapped the degree to which Australian children are experiencing disadvantage in five domains of socio-economic, education, connectedness, health services and housing, based on Australian communities.

They found that about 156,000 children aged 0-15 years old live in ‘high risk’ areas.

They also found that nine out of the top 10 areas with children’s highest risk of social exclusion in Australia are Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.


One in 25 Australian children at high risk of social exclusion: NATSEM

“Areas with a large proportion of children living in families where no adult is in paid employment, family income is relatively low, no adult in the family has completed year 12, there is no access to the internet or a vehicle in the household, and there are relatively low numbers of doctors and dentists in the area relative to total population, are considered as being at risk of social exclusion,” Professor Anne Daly, lead chief investigator of the research project, said.

The index also includes information on educational achievement and early childhood development of children within an area. Area-based NAPLAN (numeracy and literacy scores) and early childhood development scores provided by the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) have also been factored into the overall measure of child social exclusion.

Findings show that about 17,000 children live in the top 50 small areas with the highest risk of social exclusion. From these, 32 are in the Northern Territory, 13 in Queensland, four in Western Australia and one in South Australia and none are in capital cities.

Children living in these areas are likely to be experiencing multiple factors related to disadvantage.

On the other hand, 90 per cent of the 50 small areas with the lowest risk are in capital cities in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia.

According to Professor Daly, these results show a strong geographical dimension associated with the risk of social exclusion and highlight the disparity between capital cities and regional areas.

“A child that grows up at risk of social exclusion is not only likely to be disadvantaged now, but also in the future,” Professor Daly said.

“There are strong links between child disadvantage and poorer outcomes in adulthood including an increased likelihood of living in poverty and being in receipt of welfare as well as poor health and relationship outcomes,” she said.

This index will help draw a more sophisticated map of where children at risk of disadvantage are located becoming an invaluable tool for policy makers, who will then be able to focus in strengthening areas such as health services, access to technology, and educational support.

  • The areas at highest risk of social exclusion for children within the country’s capital cities are:

    -Adelaide: Playford (Elizabeth and West Central) and Port Adelaide (Inner and Park).

    -Brisbane: Deception Bay, Kingston, Marsden, Redland (S) Bal, Richlands, Waterford West and Woodridge.

    -Canberra: None.

    -Darwin: Gray and Moulden.

    -Hobart: Brighton

    -Melbourne: Broadmeadows.

    -Perth: None.

    -Sydney: Blacktown (South-West)  and Fairfield East