Demographic differences between jurisdictions
Given the well-supported link between disadvantage and legal need in recent surveys, an overview is provided of the level of disadvantage in each Australian jurisdiction to assist with the interpretation of jurisdictional differences in LAW Survey findings.
The Socio-Economic Index for Areas (SEIFA; ABS 2006b) summarises the socioeconomic conditions of geographical areas within Australia and is based on multiple demographic indicators of advantage and disadvantage, including income, educational attainment and employment status. Appendix Table A9.1 summarises the SEIFA data for each jurisdiction and shows that states/territories differ in their overall levels of disadvantage (see ABS 2008c). According to the SEIFA, the Northern Territory is the most disadvantaged jurisdiction in Australia, with a sizeable proportion of its population living in areas of very high disadvantage. In addition, some of its remote areas are among the most disadvantaged areas in Australia.(1)
Also according to the SEIFA, a considerable proportion of Tasmanians live in disadvantaged areas, as do a smaller, but still elevated, proportion of South Australians. On the contrary, the ACT is the most affluent jurisdiction in Australia, with a very low proportion of the population living in disadvantaged areas and a high proportion living in advantaged areas. NSW is the next most affluent state/territory, with an elevated proportion of the population living in advantaged areas. Based on the SEIFA, the overall levels of advantage and disadvantage in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia are more similar to those across Australia. However, Queensland has some remote areas that are among the most disadvantaged areas in Australia.(2)
The levels of disadvantage and advantage in each jurisdiction may partly reflect the unique demographic profiles of each jurisdiction, including large geographical variations in degrees of remoteness. The Northern Territory, in particular, has a very distinct profile. Some notable differences in demographic profiles are as follows:
1. Remote areas of the Northern Territory represent 11 of the 20 most disadvantaged SLAs in Australia.
2. Remote areas of Queensland represent nine of the 20 most disadvantaged SLAs in Australia.
3. The Northern Territory also has a smaller proportion of people whose main income is government payments, reflecting lower proportions on the age pension due to the territory’s younger age structure (ABS 2000b, 2011a).
- The Northern Territory has a greater proportion of people who are young, are Indigenous, live in disadvantaged housing and live in remote areas (ABS 2000b, 2007a, 2009c; ABS & AIHW 2010). Indigenous people living in remote areas constitute a particularly high proportion of the population (ABS 2006c).(3)
- Tasmania has high proportions of people who did not finish school, whose main income is government payments and who reside in regional areas. It has a low proportion of people from a non-English-speaking background (ABS 2007a, 2009b, 2009c).
- NSW and Victoria have high proportions of people from a non-English-speaking background and small proportions of people living in remote areas (ABS 2007a).
- The ACT is composed almost entirely of major city areas and has larger proportions of younger people and smaller proportions of older people. Consistent with its affluence, it has greater proportions of people with post-school qualifications and high disposable incomes, and smaller proportions on government payments (ABS 2000a, 2007a, 2008e, 2009b, 2009c).