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The Australian National University

Ranking regions: Revisiting an index of relative Indigenous socioeconomic outcomes

Working Paper 50 / 2009


For any chance of success in achieving targets for improvement in Indigenous socio-economic outcomes, policy makers need to understand where relative and absolute need is greatest. To summarise the distribution of relative need, a single index can be used to rank regions or areas within regions. In this paper nine outcomes across employment, education, income and housing from the 2001 and 2006 Censuses are used to create a single index for 37 Indigenous Regions. Across the nine input variables the large capital city regions were the least disadvantaged. At the other end of the distribution, remote regions ranked relatively poorly, especially in the Northern Territory. All 531 Indigenous Areas were also ranked, showing significant diversity within Indigenous Regions. In particular, the Indigenous Region of Sydney had the greatest diversity, with six of the seven most advantaged Indigenous Area across all of Australia, but ten areas in the lowest two quartiles. While the overall distribution was similar to that found in previous censuses, at the area level especially there was some significant change between 2001 and 2006. Much of this change was related to high rates of inward migration.

Note: A .csv file of the ranking for each Indigenous Area is available for download below.

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