Suburbs remain close to the edge


ROSEBUD West has again figured prominently in the Dropping off the Edge 2015 report on disadvantaged suburbs around Melbourne.

The report – by Catholic Social Services Australia and Jesuit Social Services released last week – showed it held a “most disadvantaged” ranking – again.

It was among the 27 state postcodes – or 4 per cent of the total – which account for 28.2 per cent of the highest ranking positions across 22 indicators of disadvantage. It is said to experience a “complex web of persistent and hard-to-shift disadvantage”.

The disadvantaged suburbs – nicknamed “struggle towns” – have high rates of unemployment, criminal convictions, disability, low education, child maltreatment, family violence and psychiatric admissions.

Rosebud West, Frankston North and Hastings again figured prominently.

Frankston North ranked in the Top 10 per cent of ‘most disadvantaged’ in Band 1 – the highest rank – while Rosebud West was in the top 5 per cent in Band 2, Hastings in the top 5 per cent in Band 5 and Rosebud in the top 5 per cent in Band 6. The bands illustrate the severity of disadvantage, with Band 1 the most severe.

Report organisers said the concept of ‘social disadvantage’ in their study referred to a range of difficulties “that reduce a person’s opportunities in life and prevent them from participating fully in society”.

They said indicators – or ‘signposts’ – taken in combination, helped to identify areas of concentrated disadvantage.

The report found that a limited number of postcodes accounted for a disproportionately high level of disadvantage. Residents in these suburbs are three times more likely to experience long-term unemployment or have been exposed to child maltreatment; 2.6 times more likely to have experienced domestic violence; 2.4 times more likely to be on disability support and twice as likely to have criminal convictions.

It found a second way to gain an overall picture of disadvantage was to count the number of times each location filled one of the highest ranking spots on each of the 22 indicators. Generally, a ranking in the top 5 per cent of results was considered “high”.

The two methods produced similar results, but with some variations reflecting diverse political, demographic, economic and social landscapes across the different jurisdictions. Nevertheless, the data permits some significant messages to be read on a jurisdiction by jurisdiction basis, the report said.

Nepean MP Martin Dixon said the Rosebud West community was “very diverse” and agreed there was “a significant portion who may consider themselves disadvantaged”.

“One of the key issues facing families on the Mornington Peninsula is the lack of long-term job prospects for our young people,” he said.

“This is an issue for all our communities and I am hopeful that future planning decisions from council will ensure that there are great opportunities and future job security on the peninsula.

“I would like to see all our young people able to be trained and employed all year round on the peninsula without the need to travel or move to Melbourne. The expansion and consolidation of our training, tourism, boating and visitor industries will see these opportunities delivered over the next decade.”

Flinders MP Greg Hunt said there was “no doubt” certain parts of the Mornington Peninsula had significant disadvantage and high unemployment.

“We are working hard to combat this with a number of programs, including the Green Army, which provides certified, skills-based training to 17-24 year olds and fosters relationships within the sector to assist these young people in gaining ongoing employment,” he said.

“The government is also providing assistance to young people through the Growing Jobs and Small Business Package, which includes measures to help job seekers. These include an $18 million National Work Experience Program to provide job seekers with work experience in businesses for up to 25 hours a week for four weeks to improve their chances of finding a job.

Other measures include:

  • A $1.2 billion wage subsidy pool so that more job seekers are eligible for flexible wage subsidy arrangements sooner, so employers are able to access wage subsidies earlier to help with the upfront costs of hiring and training;
  • A $212 million Transition to Work service to help young job seekers most at risk of long-term unemployment improve their chances of finding and keeping a job;
  • $106 million for pilot programs to test innovative approaches to helping young job seekers, such as those with a mental illness, parents, and young people from a refugee or migrant backgrounds, move from welfare to work.

“We are working hard to break the cycle of disadvantage and encourage people, especially our younger job-seekers, to gain meaningful, ongoing employment,” Mr Hunt said.

A major theme of Dropping off the Edge 2015 was the consistency with which localities identified as “extremely disadvantaged” this year resembled those similarly ranked in earlier studies. This is especially true of those in the two top ‘bands’ (12 most disadvantaged places) and was derived by a statistical tool that captures the indicators they share in common.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 28 July 2015


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