The Findings

Mapping The Potential finds that persistent disadvantage is not a problem for someone else, somewhere else, it is everywhere.

The findings in this research highlight that in most federal electorates rich and poor are living close by.

Mapping the Potential also finds that electorate averages can be misleading. Even in electorates near the national average there are many vulnerable people within these electorates.

Such insights point to the need for accessible social services right across Australia.

National themes 

This mapping shows that, in relation to persistent disadvantage:

  • the more affluent electorates tend to have narrower variation (in (particularly in Sydney), while average and disadvantaged electorates tend to have greater variation.
  • there can be considerable difference between the various ‘drivers’ of disadvantage. For instance, while some regions may have significant economic disadvantage they may still do well in terms of health disadvantage.
  • On the whole, regional areas are well below the national disadvantage average.
  • There are areas of considerable disadvantage in some capital cities, usually in outer suburbs.

National Trends

Most electorates feel the impact of disadvantage.

Mapping the Potential reveals that:

  • Approximately 80% of all electorates include suburbs with people living below the national average.
  • 100% of regional electorates have areas people living below the national average.

There is a wide range of disadvantage experience in electorates

  • 7.2% of all electorates are well below the national disadvantage average, but all of these see wide variation within them.

Regional Australia is well behind the national average

  • Approximately 85% of regional electorates recorded results below the national standard.
  • The National Party holds the most disadvantaged seats with the most regions below the national average.

Regional Themes

  • All Canberra electorates were above the national disadvantage standard.
  • The Canberra electorates were also all above national average on all disadvantage drivers.
  • While Sydney outperforms the rest of Australia economically, it also has the widest spread above and below this average
  • In Sydney, 70% of electorates are above the national disadvantage standard.
  • Of the 29 Sydney electorates, 31% are below the economic and social average, 17% below the education average and 14% below the health average.
  • The main contributor to stronger results in Sydney is a relatively young and healthy population.
  • 94.8% of the nineteen electorates in regional NSW were below the national standard.
  • In regional NSW electorates, 95% are below the health national average, 89% are below the economic and social average, 76% are below social, 16% below education.
  • The strongest driver of disadvantage in regional NSW is health.
Greater Sydney PDF
Greater New South Wales PDF
  • Both northern territory electorates had the least disadvantage across non-metropolitan Australia.
  • Lingiari struggled greatly with social disadvantage
  • The diversity in populations across large NT regions is hidden by the average electorate score.
  • Brisbane has Australia’s widest range in overall disadvantage by suburb.
  • Of the 14 Brisbane electorates, 71% are below the education national average, 42% are below the economic average, 28% below the social average, 21% below the health average.
  • In regional Queensland 81% of sixteen electorates were below the national standard.
  • Of regional Queensland electorates, 75% are below the economic disadvantage average, 62.5% below the health and social average, and 89% below education average.
  • Across Queensland, educational disadvantage is the greatest challenge.
Greater Brisbane PDF
  • Of all Australian cities, Adelaide struggles most overall.
  • Of the 7 Adelaide electorates, all but two are below the national economic and health disadvantage average, while 57% below social and education averages.
  • Adelaide’s older population sees health and education as its strongest disadvantage drivers.
  • All regional South Australia electorates are below the national disadvantage average, with Grey being one of the most disadvantaged in Australia.
  • In regional South Australia health and education disadvantage are the largest challenge.
South Australia PDF
Greater Adelaide PDF
  • No Tasmanian electorate was above the national standard.
  • Three of the five Tasmania electorates were in the lowest 10 electorates in Australia.
  • Across Tasmania, each of the four disadvantage drivers was strongest in at least one electorate.
Tasmania PDF
  • In Melbourne, 70% of electorates are above the national disadvantage standard.
  • Of the 28 Melbourne electorates, 42% are below the national economic average, 28.5% below the education average, 17% below the health average and 7% below social.
  • In Melbourne, some of its least advantaged parts are clustered next to its most advantaged.
  • In regional Victoria 90% of ten electorates were below the national average.
  • In regional Victoria electorates, only one is above the national health, economic and social averages, while 30% are below the national education average.
  • Regional Victoria experiences the most overall disadvantage in Australia, while it struggles most with health disadvantage.
  • We expect the higher proportion of aged, single parent, disabled and unemployed people in regional Victoria to be behind this result.
Greater Melbourne PDF
Greater Victoria PDF
  • Perth faces the least constraint from disadvantage in all its forms.
  • Of the 13 Perth electorates, 31% are below the economic average, 15% below the education average and none are below the health and social averages.
  • Regional Western Australia struggled most with economic and education disadvantage.
Greater WA PDF
Rest of Australia PDF