‘Salt and pepper’ public housing approach masking disadvantage in Canberra: report

The territory government’s ‘salt and pepper’ approach to public housing is masking the levels of disadvantage felt by 37,000 Canberrans living on an ‘equivalised income’ of $26,000 a year, a new report suggests.

The report by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling at the University of Canberra found up to one in every 10 Canberrans are living in low-income households, as are some 12 per cent of the city’s children.

It also revealed almost 20 per cent of the ACT’s “small areas”, a statistical measurement unit based around population of about 320 people, are experiencing two or more “indicators of disadvantage”.

The report comes as the government moves more than 1000 public housing tenants to new proposed public housing blocks across the city, sparking concerns ranging from public transport accessibility to bushfire risks for some developments.

Commissioned by the ACT Council of Social Services, NATSEM researchers analysed small area data from the 2016 Census on several measures of disadvantage ranging from the proportion of weekly income spent on rent to school completion rates.

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