Child Social Exclusion Report Index

Executive Summary

Child Social Exclusion (CSE) is a multi-dimensional measure of child disadvantage. It extends the concept of child poverty by reflecting the extent to which children lack the opportunities and resources to participate fully in their communities and feel connected.

The CSE Index is an area-based indicator of the risk of social exclusion for Australian children. The index uses a wider concept of disadvantage than one focussed purely on income at the Statistical Area 2 (SA2) small area level.

This report updates the index of social exclusion risk for Australian children under 15 years of age based on data from the 2021 Census supplemented by additional administrative and microsimulated data. Six domains were used: socio-economic, education, connectedness, access to housing, health & community, and environment.

The report also compares the patterns and distribution of the CSE Index findings across time (2016 and 2021) and against the spatial distribution of child poverty in 2021. Children are deemed to be living in poverty if their household falls below the poverty line. The poverty line is set at half the median equivalised household disposable income, adjusted for housing costs which was AUD $504 per week in 2021.

We present the findings of the CSE Index and Child poverty by splitting the 0-14 population into five groups with the same number of children (quintiles). The most excluded quintile (Q5) represents the 20 per cent of Australian children living in areas with the highest risk of social exclusion, experiencing disadvantage on multiple fronts. In contrast, the least socially excluded areas (Q1) cover children who experience the lowest risk of social exclusion. Similarly, child poverty ranges from a highest poverty quintile (the 20 per cent of Australian children living in the highest poverty areas) to a lowest poverty quintile (the 20 per cent of children living in the areas with the lowest poverty rates).

Read a summary of the report here.

Key Findings

Child Social Exclusion Index

  • The highest prevalence of social exclusion was recorded in Tasmania, with 35 per cent of children in this state in the most excluded quintile.
  • Close to 48 per cent of children living in regional areas lived in the most and second most excluded quintiles, higher than 36 per cent of children living in the greater capital cities.

Child Poverty Versus Social Exclusion 2021

  • One in six (17 per cent) of Australian children aged 0-14 years lived in poverty with Tasmania having the highest rate at 24 per cent.
  • The areas of greatest child poverty were found in South West Sydney, South and West Melbourne, Hobart, and Perth. Areas of high child social exclusion risk were found in Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania. Child Social Exclusion Index and child poverty measures therefore do not perfectly overlap.
  • 23 per cent of children were in a social exclusion quintile higher than their poverty quintile and 27 per cent were in a poverty quintile higher than their social exclusion quintile.

Comparison of Child Social Exclusion 2016 and 2021

  • There are 16 per cent of all children where the risk of social exclusion is the highest in 2016 and 2021 (covering 302 small areas), indicating persistence in the local community‚Äôs risk of child social exclusion.
  • Between 2016 and 2021, there has been a decline in the proportion of children living in housing stress and in families where no family members completed year 12, a decline in volunteering (possibly due to the COVID pandemic) and a decrease in the ratio of GPs and dentists.