Disadvantage in the Australian Capital Territory
At a state and territory level, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has the highest average income and the lowest levels of disadvantage compared to all other states and territories in Australia. However, a state- and territory-based measure hides disadvantage at the local level by averaging out any disadvantaged areas with the less-disadvantaged areas. A spatial analysis of disadvantage can highlight where people are experiencing disadvantage, and can help inform the government's response to disadvantaged and marginalised people. This article shows that there is suburb-level disadvantage in the ACT, primarily due to housing costs. However, we also find that using the Socio-economic Index for Individuals (SEIFI), there are even disadvantaged households in less-disadvantaged ACT suburbs, and these disadvantaged households do not show up in the suburb-level data due to the averaging of advantaged with disadvantaged households within a suburb. This is particularly so in the ACT due to a policy of peppering public housing (where many disadvantaged people live) within less-disadvantaged neighbourhoods (commonly called mixed tenure). We argue that this mixed tenure policy means that area-based service provision may not be as efficient in the ACT, and that the ACT Government policy of providing services from town centres is an appropriate response. We also argue that due to the higher cost of living in the ACT, the onset of financial stress can be very fast if the main income earner loses a job.