A cluster of western Sydney suburbs has been identified as some of the most financially vulnerable communities in the country and least equipped to cope with the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
Fruiterer. Image: Grace Petrou
New figures released by civic tech start-up Seer Data & Analytics shows that Ashcroft, Canley Vale, Fairfield and Cabramatta in western Sydney are in the top two per cent of the nation’s disadvantaged communities, based on their socio-economic conditions. And their vulnerability is likely to be compounded by the unemployment, business closures and financial stress already generated through the COVID-19 lockdown.
Victoria’s Broadmeadows and St Albans plus the Gold Coast communities of Southport, Surfers Paradise and Labrador, are also particularly vulnerable.
Seer co-founder and CEO Kristi Mansfield said the data helped identify the locations that would find the impact of COVID-19 most challenging.
“We can see there is a cluster of compounding disadvantage in these suburbs in western Sydney,’’ she said. “These are areas with a higher proportion of Centrelink payments, homelessness, housing stress and large populations.’’
“These communities are entering the crisis without the economic resources required to support them through the impacts of shutdowns or to quickly recover when restrictions are eased.’’
The data is captured in a map that graphically displays the data collated and analysed from a range of government measures, including the Index of Economic Resources, and the Index of Education and Occupation.
Men on a stroll through the suburbs. Image: Grace Petrou
What compounds the disadvantage for these vulnerable communities is that many have a higher share of workers in industries that are currently under pressure from the health crisis. Small business, which has been particularly susceptible to the economic impact of COVID-19, is also over-represented in these communities. Crucially, many other vulnerable suburbs in Australia have neighbouring communities that have less disadvantage and they are able to provide some support and sustenance to their neighbours. That is not the case with this cluster of western Sydney suburbs.
“Nowhere else in the country is there such a dense clustering of communities that are entering the crisis with such extreme disadvantage,’’ Kristi said.
Seer is offering its standard plan free of charge for the rest of 2020 to help organisations plan responses to the COVID-19 crisis based on its data.
“From a philanthropic aspect, this data enables people to see the compounding impacts on these vulnerable communities,’’ Kristi says.
“Nothing beats on the ground knowledge and the data maps give government and philanthropy a window on to those communities while providing those working on the ground with a targeted approach.’’
Vulnerable communities on the Gold Coast have a common risk factor entering the health crisis – the impact of job losses from closures and downturn in accommodation, retails, hospitality and arts and recreation. In Victoria, the suburbs near Broadmeadows – including Roxburgh Park, Meadow Heights and Glenroy are battling housing stress, a significant problem in an economic downturn.
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