In 2007, Jesuit Social Services and Catholic Social Services Australia commissioned ground-breaking research into place-based disadvantage across the nation. The resulting report, Dropping off the edge, built the work of two previous reports (1999 and 2004) that Jesuit Social Services had engaged Professor Tony Vinson to undertake on its behalf and quickly became a critical resource for governments, service providers and communities attempting to address the challenge of entrenched and often complex geographical disadvantage.
Dropping off the edge received over 284 scholarly citations and supported the establishment of the Australian Social Inclusion Board – a body charged with identifying long-term strategies to end poverty in Australia.
Since the publication of Dropping off the edge, our organisations have received many requests to update the findings and produce a new report tracking the wellbeing of communities in Australia over the intervening time.
Sadly, the current report drives home the enormous challenge that lies in front of our policy makers and service providers, as many communities identified as disadvantaged in 2007 once again head the list in each state and territory.
As a society we cannot, and should not, turn away from the challenge of persistent and entrenched locational disadvantage, no matter how difficult it may be to solve the problem.
We call on government, community and business to come together to work alongside these communities to ensure long term sustainable change.
We hold hope that the young people and future generations in these communities will have a better outlook and life opportunities than is currently available to them. It is our belief that every Australian should have access to the opportunities in life that will enable them to flourish – to complete their education, to get a job, to access safe and affordable housing, to raise their children in safe communities and to see the next generation thrive.
Jesuit Social Services and Catholic Social Services Australia are indebted to the dedication and perseverance of Professor Tony Vinson in leading this important research and analysis over the past 15 years.