Inequality graphs: Introduction


This website is a starting point for monitoring inequality, providing over 250 indicators describing inequality in a range of indicators of demographic and social indicators; health status, disability and deaths; and the use and provision of health and welfare services.

Overall, the level of wellbeing of the Australian population is high when compared to the populations of many overseas countries. However, these summary statistics hide substantial differences in the health and wellbeing of specific groups within our population. Although this is most evident for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, there are also many other disadvantaged groups in Australia.

Inequality simply means ‘a difference'. Numerous inequalities exist across the population in Australia and they tend to divide the community into different groupings. There are many types of inequality - age, sex, ethnicity and race, social and economic position, disability, geographical area, health status etc. Inequalities that occur as a result of differences in access to education, material resources, safe working conditions, effective services, living conditions in childhood, and so forth result because of differences that are unfair. The challenge is to find those effective interventions that will address these inequities and improve the wellbeing of all those who are disadvantaged.

The data show the extent to which the level of inequality (absolute and relative) has changed.

Inequality graphs overview

The Inequality graphs show variations for each indicator by socioeconomic status (SES), based on the ABS Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage (IRSD). Data are presented in five groupings of areas ('quintiles' or, as labelled within the graph interface, 'Quintile of Socioeconomic Disadvantage of Area'), each representing approximately one fifth (20%) of the population. The quintiles range from the 20% of the population living in the highest SES areas (least disadvantaged) to the 20% living in the lowest SES areas (most disadvantaged).

The height of the bar for each quintile indicates the rate or per cent for the population usually resident in that quintile. The ratio of the rate in the most disadvantaged areas (Quintile 5) to that in the least disadvantaged areas (Quintile 1) is shown on the right hand side of the graph: it is labelled the ‘Inequality ratio'.

A separate module presents data in this way for indicators which are available over time - see Time Series.

For the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, the quintiles are based on the Indigenous Relative Socioeconomic Outcomes index derived by the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing.