Finding adequate housing is one of the top challenges for disadvantaged Australians as concerns about affordability highlight a backward trend for the nation’s most disadvantaged.
Getting access to shelter with basic utilities has become harder in most states and territories except Victoria, with Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia ranking lowest on the latest social progress index in terms of shelter.
The findings by the Centre for Social Impact, which looked at health, housing, education and wellbeing, show most parts of the country went backwards in meeting basic human needs in 2021.
The index examined various factors including the uptake of homelessness services, social housing tenancy rates and demand.
It also considered issues with overcrowding and rental affordability in low-income households.
Victoria was the only state that improved on housing compared to the previous year.
Director of the centre for social impact at UNSW, Danielle Logue, said the findings highlight differences in housing programs and demands across various states.
“Whilst we have something to be proud of there, in terms of access to shelter, I think it shows there is a lot more work to do,” Prof Logue told AAP.
“Especially when we’re thinking about how we can ensure that the most vulnerable have a roof over their head.”
When it comes to general social progress and social equity, the ACT ranked highest, followed by Victoria and NSW.
The Northern Territory ranked last ahead of Western Australia, likely due to barriers including remoteness, smaller populations and higher proportions of First Nations people.
Centre chief executive Armine Nalbandian said the data could help policymakers drive meaningful change.
“Drawing on the strongest available data sources, the index shows us where policy decisions are not landing with the communities they are meant to serve,” Ms Nalbandian said.
“This tool can help focus government efforts across the country on the policy and structural changes needed to drive change.”
While access to advanced education improved in most states and territories, access to basic education did not which could mark the effect of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Australia ranked 12th for overall social progress on the global index out of 169 countries, with Norway listed as number one.
The Centre for Social Impact is a national research and education collaboration between four leading universities including UNSW Sydney, The University of Western Australia, Swinburne University of Technology and Flinders University.
(Australian Associated Press)