Mapping inequality: how does your suburb stack up?

May 6th, 2016 by tanya

Adelaide VAMPIRE index map

VAMPIRE (Vulnerability Analysis of Mortgage, Petroleum and Inflation Risks and Expenditure) Index map of Adelaide, where green suburbs show lowest risk of mortgage stress and financial pressure from rising petrol prices

Visit the AURIN Map to see how the other half live, work, drive, earn and more

A new online interactive map is showing Australians how our suburbs compare across a range of indicators of disadvantage, including unemployment, income, access to health and financial services, education, potential mortgage stress and others.

Australia is the ‘lucky country’, but when it comes to social disadvantage, how does Applecross compare with Orange? What suburbs suck more petrol money as a proportion of income? And what level of access to public transport do they have? Are there geographic trends in level of education: do nerds of a feather flock together?

orange education and occupaiton

Comparing education and occupation levels: Orange NSW (27th percentile) – based on ABS SEIFA Index of Education and Occupation data for the year 2011

Comparing education and occupation levels using ABS data: Applecross WA (95th percentile)

Comparing education and occupation levels using ABS data: Applecross WA (95th percentile)

The AURIN Map—a free resource for the broader community, online at map.aurin.org.au—unlocks a host of government and research data, and maps and visualises how and where people live and work, and a range of other socio-demographic information.

“Anyone can use the AURIN Map,” says AURIN director Andrew Dingjan, “be it a family with teenagers wanting to check the public transport access of areas they’re considering moving to, a business seeking hot spots of high income but low access to financial services, or even a charity wanting to know the areas where children are at a risk of social exclusion.”

But for researchers and urban planners, the AURIN Map provides a taste of what’s available through the AURIN Portal, including population statistics, census data and the patterns of social trends, and how they vary geographically. They can use the analytical and modelling tools at the AURIN Portal to analyse the data and use it to model and test policy ideas and urban planning decisions to make our cities more liveable and more equitable.

“Mapping this data can help policy makers target effort and funding to the areas with highest need,” says Andrew.

“It can help researchers understand the relationships between social issues and, for example, health and educational outcomes. And it can help governments and corporations identify new business opportunities and areas to target investment from the public purse.”

This is something Dr Iain Butterworth can attest to as Manager Liveability and Sustainability, Eastern & Southern Metropolitan Health, in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

“Many people might think that urban planning and health policy come together just to decide where to put hospitals,” says Iain. “It’s a focus on treating sickness once it emerges. I’m more interested in reducing people’s need for these services in the first instance.

The department’s Place, Health and Liveability research partnership with the University of Melbourne has identified seven key policy domains that can help keep the whole population well. These are: (1) Transport; (2) Walkability; (3) Food; (4) Housing; (5) Public open space (including the natural environment); (6) Employment; and (7) Social infrastructure — including local access to health and community services, leisure facilities and education.

“In line with Plan Melbourne’s commitment to creating ‘Liveable Communities and Neighbourhoods’, my focus in on planning good, healthy places that keep people well and out of the acute health system.”

“The AURIN Map and the other resources on the AURIN platform can help planners do this. The AURIN Map in particular is a really important development because it visualises how things like inequality or liveability influence health. And it makes this information accessible, which is helpful for engaging other stakeholders and sectors outside my own.”

Currently the map includes:

  • population statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics,
  • data on accessibility to core services (such as health, education, financial services and public transport) from the Australian Population and Migration Research Centre at the University of Adelaide,
  • social vulnerability and unemployment data from NATSEM at the University of Canberra, and
  • VAMPIRE Index data, providing a snapshot of vulnerability to financial stress from changes in petrol prices and/or mortgage interest rates.

The AURIN Map is based on and complements the Australian Government’s NationalMap, developed as a website for map-based access to spatial data from Australian government agencies.

Visit the AURIN Map at: map.aurin.org.au

View a video tutorial overview of the AURIN Map at: http://vimeo.com/aurin/mapaurin