How can we break the cycle of entrenched disadvantage in affected families and communities?

What’s the problem?

Alt text For many families and communities, disadvantage has become an entrenched cycle that passes from generation to generation. Social stigmas and low expectations become self-fulfilling prophesies.

The 2015 Dropping off the Edge report shows that complex and entrenched disadvantage is experienced by a small number of communities across Australia that have shown few signs of improvement in the past 15 years. Three percent of communities bear the greatest burden of disadvantage within each state and territory.

Seven things you need to know

  • High unemployment is a significant issue in 23 out of 37 most disadvantaged communities around the country.

  • According to ACOSS, people who are unemployed long term often face additional barriers to getting a job, including lack of recent work experience, a mismatch of skills with jobs available and real challenges in sustaining hope in the face of repeated rejections.

  • For disadvantaged children, barriers to achievement start before they’ve even begun school. In the 2015 Australian Early Development Census, nearly 33 per cent of school entry age children in the most disadvantaged communities in Australia were found to be developmentally vulnerable in one or categories (out of five). This compares to 22% for the Australian average. These concerns tend to exacerbate over the school years and can have lifelong negative effects in terms of future employment and mental and physical health.

The Dropping off the Edge report 2015 found:

  • In New South Wales: just 11 postcodes (1.8% of total) account for 21.4% of the most disadvantaged rank positions. Dominant factors in these postcodes include criminal convictions, unemployment, no internet access, domestic violence, lack of qualifications and young adults not fully engaged in work or study.

  • In Victoria: just 11 postcodes (1.6% of total) account for 13.7% of the most disadvantaged rank positions. Dominant factors include unemployment, criminal convictions, disability, low education and child maltreatment, family violence and psychiatric admissions.

  • In Queensland: just 11 statistical local areas (2.3% of total) account for 26% of the most disadvantaged rank positions. Eight of these SLAs are considered ‘very remote.’ Dominant factors include young adults not fully engaged in work or study, long-term unemployment, prison admissions, no internet access, low family income and criminal convictions.

  • In South Australia: just seven statistical local areas (5.5% of total) account for 57% of the most disadvantaged rank positions. Dominant factors include unemployment, long-term unemployment, overall level of education, criminal convictions and young adults not fully engaged in work or study.

  • In Tasmania: just six local government areas (21% of total) account for 80% of the most disadvantaged rank positions. Dominant factors include criminal convictions, long-term unemployment, juvenile offending, young adults not fully engaged in work or study, disability and low family income.

  • In Western Australia: just six local government areas (4.3% of total) account for 28.6% of the most disadvantaged rank positions. Dominant factors include no internet access, young adults not fully engaged in work or study, overall education, Year 3 reading and prison admissions.

In Northern Territory: just four statistical local areas (25% of total) account for 47% of the most disadvantaged rank positions. Only one of 16 statistical local areas recorded no ‘most disadvantaged’ rankings.

  • In Australian Capital Territory: just two postcodes (7% of total) account for 25% of the most disadvantaged rank positions. Dominant factors include rental stress, limited qualifications, low family income, no internet access, limited work skills, disability and unemployment.

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