Bernard Salt.
Bernard Salt.

Bundy listed among Australia's most disavantaged communities

RESPECTED national demographer Bernard Salt has identified Bundaberg among the country's most disadvantaged communities.

Writing in his column for The Australian, Mr Salt analysed data from the 2016 Census to highlight the communities with the greatest percentage of residents living on Struggle St.

Nearly one in eight Bundaberg people worked full time, but earned less than $34,000 a year (minimum wage).

Bundaberg and Hervey Bay were the only Queensland regional centres with populations greater than 20,000 people identified.

But it wasn't all bleak as Ms Salt found a lot of battling towns, had greater social cohesion and community spirit.

Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said that was certainly the case here, a point supported by the fact residents donated more to the top five charities per person than any other community in Australia.

Cr Dempsey said it was vital the region got its fair share of funding support from higher tiers of government, not just to address social issues, such as drug use, but also in job-enabling infrastructure projects.

He said Mr Salt's analysis was similar to the findings of a previous state of our region's report, which found that the Wide Bay region had a worryingly high number of people earning low wages.

Mr Salt built his analysis on five key criteria.

"These include a high proportion of full-time workers with an annual income of less than $34,000, which approximates minimum wage; a high proportion with just Year 9 education; a high proportion needing help with core activities; a high proportion unemployed; and a low proportion of volunteers," he wrote.

Only communities with a population greater than 1000 were analysed to find the 75 hardest hit.

Bundaberg, with 50,150 residents, has 12.1% of people with an annual income less than $34,000. This was one of the higher numbers in this category.

Also, the 15.6% who had no education beyond Year 9 was high.

Interestingly, Mr Salt found volunteering rates seemed to be stronger in some of the most disadvantaged pockets. Bundaberg's 19.5% was again high.

"A connected community is a strengthened community, regardless of measures of disadvantage."



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