Social Inclusion in Australia: How Australia is Faring
27 January 2010 at 3:47 pm
While most Australians live well, there are some groups who are doing it very tough with some 5% of Australians facing social exclusion according to the first report by the Federal Government’s Social Inclusion Board.
The Report says that while most Australians are employed, 15% of all Australian children live in jobless families. Most Australians have high life expectancies but some groups, such as Indigenous people, have much lower expectancies (10 to 12 years lower).
It says that for some Australians, disadvantage in one area is often shown to be associated with disadvantage in other respects. For example, the Board’s report finds that low income households often have poorer health and/or more difficulty accessing transport and other essential services. 35% of people with low incomes reported fair or poor health compared to only 7% with high incomes. 10% of people with low incomes have difficulty accessing transport compared to only 1% of people with high incomes. People with low incomes are also less likely to have access to the internet at home (33% compared to 85% with high incomes).
Similarly, people living in areas of low socioeconomic status tend to have lower levels of involvement in many aspects of community life. People living in the most disadvantaged 20% of regions are shown to be much more likely to be unemployed, more likely to have children who are developmentally vulnerable, less likely to have Year 12 or equivalent at ages 20 to 24, less likely to participate in a community group and less likely to have a say in decisions that affect them.
Approximately 5% of Australians aged 15 years and over experience three or more types of disadvantage which is the base mark for social exclusion.
Social inclusion is about addressing multiple disadvantages and ensuring that everyone is able to participate fully in Australian society. It is about people having the necessary opportunities, capabilities and resources to enable them both to contribute to and share in the benefits of Australia’s success as a nation.
The Australian Social Inclusion Board notes that the nation needs to address social exclusion because it is the fair thing to do and fairness has the potential to improve the well-being of everyone by: eliminating the threats to security and harmony that arise from excluding groups in our society; improving economic performance by allowing everyone to make a contribution; and enhancing pride in being a society which not only values fair treatment and opportunity, but actually works hard to achieve it.
This report sets the baseline for measuring progress on reducing disadvantage in Australia and provides a platform for the Board to address the topic of breaking the cycle of disadvantage over the coming year.
The Australian Social Inclusion Board was formed in May 2008 with a brief to advise Government, consult with the community, and report on social inclusion in Australia.
The Chair of the Australian Social Inclusion Board, Patricia Faulkner AO says the report is intended to guide consideration of approaches to achieving greater inclusion through a focus on:
- the multidimensional character of disadvantage (one source of disadvantage can often lead to disadvantages in other areas);
- the locational aspects of disadvantage (people with disadvantage often live near each other, sometimes exacerbating their disadvantage); and
- the entrenched and sometimes inter-generational aspects of disadvantage.
Faulkner says the Board intends to continue to report on progress in social inclusion and will continue to evolve the framework for measuring inclusion, so that the community can act on the basis of facts not just opinion.
The Board will be presenting on the key findings of the report at the inaugural Social Inclusion Conference on 28-29 January 2010 at the Melbourne Convention Centre.
The Report can be downloaded at http://www.socialinclusion.gov.au/Resources/Documents/SI_HowAusIsFaring.pdf