Life opportunities, social inclusion and health outcomes: an Australian Atlas

Published: 2012; Released online: 2014

This atlas describes the extent and significance of inequalities in health and social inclusion across Australia, particularly those associated with wider social and economic influences. The national Social Health Atlas series is now in its third edition (1992, 1999 and 2012), reflecting recognition within the federal health sector over two decades, of the impact of socioeconomic disadvantage on health and wellbeing. In other areas of government, there is also acknowledgement of the interplay of disadvantage in all its forms, and the avoidable differences in wellbeing that can result.

The atlas again highlights where further effort is needed to improve wellbeing and social inclusion within the population, both for individuals and for communities, across the life course.

The Australian Government Department of Health commissioned this atlas in 2010 to have a focus on social exclusion and the role of the health sector in contributing towards social inclusion. However, the final publication of the atlas was delayed in the lead up to, and following the change of government in 2013. While the discussion, references, indicators and data reflect the context of this earlier period, there is much in the atlas which remains relevant. To access more recent data, refer to the latest PHIDU Social Health Atlases online or to the current list of indicators.

Authored by PHIDU

Life opportunities coverFull document


Section 1: Context and purpose

Section 2: Thinking about health, inequality and social exclusion

Section 3: Health, inequality and social inclusion over the life course

Section 4: Indicators of health and wellbeing for Priority Areas (all indicators listed below)

Section 4: part 1 (smaller size PDF):
  • Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage
  • Children living in jobless families
  • Long-term unemployment
  • Children in low income, welfare-dependent families
  • Children in families where the mother has low educational attainment
  • The Australian Early Development Index
  • Women smoking during pregnancy
Section 4: part 2 (smaller size PDF):
  • Homelessness
  • Dwellings rented from the government housing authority
  • People living in the community who have a profound or severe disability and are not employed
  • People with long-term mental health problems who are unemployed
  • Prevalence of psychological distress
Section 4: part 3 (smaller size PDF):
  • Indigenous population
  • Indigenous participation in secondary education
  • Indigenous women smoking during pregnancy
  • Indigenous median age at death
  • Non-Indigenous median age at death
Section 4: part 4 (smaller size PDF):
  • Prevalence of circulatory system diseases
  • Prevalence of type 2 diabetes
  • Prevalence of smoking among males
  • Prevalence of smoking among females
  • Prevalence of obesity among males
  • Prevalence of obesity among females
  • National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, participation
  • National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, positive test results
  • Premature mortality, all causes
  • Premature mortality from suicide and self-inflicted injury

Section 5: Socioeconomic status - current, and change over time

Section 6: Addressing entrenched disadvantage in particular locations

Section 7: Correlation analysis for Priority Area indicators

Section 8: Summary

Appendices A to D
  • Appendix A: Notes on the indicators and data sources
  • Appendix B: Modelled estimates of chronic diseases and associated risk factors
  • Appendix C: Grouped SLAs
  • Appendix D: Sources of information for Sections 4 to 8

Appendix: Key maps