New interactive web tool provides critical information about poverty and disadvantage in Australia

A new interactive tool that captures community-specific data about poverty and disadvantage across Australia has been launched by the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne.

The Breaking Down Barriers Community Profiles tool provides easily accessible data on key characteristics of poverty and disadvantage, such as income, education, employment, family structure, housing type, and population growth. It offers policy-makers and community members key insights to inform decision-making.

Professor A. Abigail Payne, director of the Melbourne Institute, said Community Profiles offers a vital tool for illuminating community-level data, which could ultimately lead to poverty reduction.

Abigail Payne
Professor A. Abigail Payne

“I love to dig into data to understand what can drive the reduction of poverty, and this tool will offer data and insights which allow communities and policy makers to understand what is working, what isn’t, and to think about new ways to reduce poverty and disadvantage,” Professor Payne said.

“Poverty is an Australia-wide issue which continues to be a complex social and economic problem only exacerbated by the current cost of living and rental crisis.While we want national strategies, we must also incorporate an understanding what is happening at a community level,” she said.

Dr Rajeev Samarage, Data and Analytics Lead at the Melbourne Institute, said it was important to use data science tools through the lens of social science.

Rajeev Samarage
Dr Rajeev Samarage

“The Melbourne Institute has built a team of data and social scientists who are using these tools to enable a much deeper understanding of the critical issues facing Australia,” Dr Samarage said.

“It is important to showcase is data through the Community Profiles tool, so everyone in the community has access to the information.”

The Melbourne Institute has published expert analysis of national and community poverty levels in its latest Research Insight, which shows how data from the Community Profiles tool can give a more accurate understanding of poverty in Australia.

  • The research insight shows poverty cannot be measured nationally using just one statistic.
  • Between 2016 and 2021 the national poverty rate increased from 14.7 to 18.3 per cent, and the share of communities with a poverty rate of greater than 12 per cent rose from 60 to 80 per cent.
  • This research, and the Community Profiles tool, are results of the Breaking Down Barriers Shared Data Environment project at Melbourne Institute, funded by the Paul Ramsay Foundation. The project’s aim was to collect, curate, and share data that has relevance to understanding poverty and disadvantage in Australia.
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The Community Profiles tool is free to access and provides easily digestible data at a community-specific level.

When a user selects a local community (an area labelled a Statistical Area Level 3 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics) on a map of Australia, the tool provides information about the area and smaller communities (Statistical Areas Level 2s) within it.

For example, within the Shepparton region the user will find information about the six communities within it (Mooroopna, Shepparton - North, Shepparton Surrounds - East, Shepparton Surrounds - West, Kialla, and Shepparton - South East).

Explore the Breaking Down Barriers Community Profiles