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Research Report: Data digest
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Chapter 2. Demographic characteristics of service users


This chapter describes demographic characteristics of those who make inquiries (service users). The characteristics include gender, age, Indigenous Australian status, country of birth, source of income and region of residence.

It should be noted that the demographic data collected by each service varied considerably. A matrix of the availability of demographic variables for each service is included in Appendix 1. There is also a high rate of missing data for a number of the variables. In some cases these missing values have been adjusted for, as discussed in Appendix 4.

Where possible, the demographic profile of service users was compared with that of the NSW population using the index of concentration (IC). More information about the index of concentration is provided in the introduction to Section 1 under ‘Methodology’ and in Appendix 4.

It needs to be noted that variations in the use of services by different demographic groups could be influenced by a number of factors:
  • whether the service targets a particular group
  • awareness and knowledge of the service by the group
  • the accessibility of the service to the group, for example, appropriate geographic location, availability of interpreting services
  • the type and number of legal matters experienced by a particular group
  • the quality of the information recorded about the demographic characteristics of a particular group.

Thus, a relatively low proportion of inquiries to a service from young people may be due to a low incidence of legal problems among young people, or a low rate of usage of the service by young people. In turn, low use of a service may reflect lack of awareness of the service, lack of accessibility, or the fact that young people are not a priority group for the service.

  


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Scott, S, Eyland, A , Gray, A, Zhou, A & Coumarelos, C 2004, Data digest, a compendium of services usage data from NSW legal assistance and dispute resolution services 1999-2002, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney, 2004