Disadvantaged places in urban Australia: residential mobility, place attachment and social exclusion

Poverty Low income housing Housing location Socio-economic disadvantage Sydney New South Wales
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Three overarching issues are being considered through this Multi-Year Research Project (MYRP):

  1. How concentrations of social disadvantage have been conceptualised and how this relates to our broader understanding of the operation and impacts of housing and urban systems.
  2. The impacts of spatial disadvantage, and the importance of housing and place in mediating the incidence and experience of residents of disadvantaged areas.
  3. How policy, practitioners and communities can respond to spatial disadvantage in 'best for people, best for place' terms.

A policy, practice and literature review has been completed.  It shows how disadvantage was at one stage concentrated in inner city areas but is increasingly found in middle-ring suburbs of Australian major cities. It argues that there are conceptual issues that still need resolution, such as understanding the most appropriate scale at which place-based disadvantage might be analysed,  and distinguishing the role that places (as opposed to demographic factors) play in identifying spatial disadvantage.  Future research as part of the MYRP will seek to develop a typology of disadvantaged places.

The review also considered the causes and consequences of spatial disadvantage. The emergence of public housing as a residualised tenure has been an obvious means by which disadvantage has been concentrated in particular areas, but there has also been some evidence (e.g. Randolph & Holloway, 2005) that private rental markets have impacted on spatial disadvantage. Future research as part of the MYRP will explore the role of the planning system and housing costs in concentrating disadvantage. It will also seek to better understand the lived experience of people in disadvantaged places, and consider the role of mobility in mitigating the effects of disadvantaged places.

Unlike other countries, there are currently few place-based initiatives aimed at addressing social disadvantage in Australia, with most focused on public housing redevelopments.  Some of the planned case-studies will involve places in which various interventions to address disadvantage have already been rolled out. Through analysis of these interventions and their impacts, it is hoped to provide new insights into regeneration policy effectiveness.

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