Suburban Scars – Report on Divide Between Rich and Poor
Tuesday, 11th March 2008 at 1:21 pm
As the Federal Government prepares for its 2020 Summit to generate ideas for the future, a new report pinpoints hot-spots of Australia’s escalating rich-poor divide and identifies those suburbs left behind by Australia’s economic boom.
The report by Scott Baum from Griffith University’s Urban Research Program has developed a General Deprivation Index for Australian cities.
The index provides a snap shot of urban deprivation at the time of the 2006 census and is an indication of the intensity of deprivation across the suburbs of Australia’s capital cities.
One of the key statements is that there are real reasons to be concerned about the suburban socio-economic scars that characterise Australian cities.
A big picture view of suburban scarring suggests that there exists a complex geography of deprivation across the Australian metropolitan regions.
The research sets up an index of deprivation which has Band 1 as the highest relative deprivation suburbs (poorest) and the band 6 as the lowest relative deprivation suburbs (richest).
The group of suburbs identified within band 6 have for some time been identified as an emerging feature of Australian cities.
It says Band six suburbs are clearly differentiated from other localities and are establishing themselves as spaces of privilege in the global age These places of privilege are not found in all metropolitan regions but are a distinct feature of Australia’s two most globalised cities Sydney and Melbourne.
In Sydney, increasing global city functions associated with the presence of regional headquarters, national gateway functions and knowledge based industry have generated the wealth and high incomes necessary for the rise of ‘privileged communities’ close to the CBD in is now known as ‘global Sydney’.
The report says Melbourne has not got the extreme polarised structure of Sydney.
However it does have suburbs at both extremes of the General Deprivation Index.
The suburbs that have been most scarred (highest relative deprivation) include those in Melbourne’s post-war industrial growth heartlands including Broadmeadows and Sunshine. These are suburbs, which like the industrial regions in the other capitals, have been at the wrong end of economic and social transitions.
The report says an interesting finding is that the concentration of students in Carlton has contributed to that suburb’s poor showing. Band 6 suburbs (lowest relative deprivation) include East Melbourne, Docklands and Burnley; suburbs associated with Melbourne’s new economy activities and the gentrification that has occurred in the inner city.
The report says some areas of Adelaide are among the nation’s poorest suburbs having emerged as housing for prosperous workforces in the 1950s only to suffer profound demise through the 1970s and 1980s and other cities have similar examples.
It says if the band 6 suburbs are in some sense distancing themselves from the rest of the country, then the band 1 suburbs are falling further and further behind new economic opportunity.
This would seem to be especially the case with reference to those band 1 suburbs within the Sydney metropolitan region. While it is true that disadvantage in terms of unemployment and low incomes have been a feature of Australian cities for some time, these contemporary deprived localities may be thought of as being different with deprivation being more entrenched and less easy to escape.
The report says clear and fresh thinking is required regarding to achieve the most appropriate and effective policy actions. Given the entrenched nature of deprivation, there is a strong argument to be made that past policies have largely failed or at least been only partially successful.
It says to drive new policy; however, a strong evidence base is also required. So is a multi-pronged approach.
It says the country clearly needs both a political focus on Australia’s deprived suburbs as well as debate on the appropriate policy.
In concludes that more importantly it needs to realise that Australia is far too prosperous to continue failing its most deprived citizens and that real and sustainable action is required to address the socio-economic scars that exist in our metropolitan cites.
The full report can be downloaded at: http://www.griffith.edu.au/centre/urp/urp_publications/research_papers/URP_RP15_SuburbanScars_BAUM_final.pdf