SEIFA Wonks

Socio-Economic Index Map of Broken Hill
Socio-Economic Index Map of Broken Hill

This is interesting. The SEIFA map shows Broken Hill as an island of Socio-economic advantage in an ocean of disadvantage. I prefer to think of the glass half full so I am ignoring the quote at the top of that post. When it comes down the quantifiable it seems Broken Hill and Coffs Harbour are on a fairly equal footing according to the Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage

I’ve been telling everyone that Broken Hill has a population of 60,000 but unless something dramatic has changed in the past four years it is not more than 20,000. So it is not about the same size as Coffs Harbour at all. Oops.

Blue lines: AEDC local communities; red lines: primary school catchment area
Blue lines: AEDC local communities; red lines: primary school catchment area

Children from school catchment five (SC5) had the highest levels of contamination and the worst NAPLAN and AEDC outcomes. Children in school catchment three (SC3) – which had the lowest soil arsenic, cadmium and lead concentrations performed better

In 2015 I spent six weeks working for the Broken Hill Hospital and Fire Brigade. I thoroughly enjoyed it, everyone was so welcoming and supportive. One Saturday morning I had a conversation with a chap in the coffee shop. He was a professor overseeing his post-grad students paper. The post-grads had been collecting soil samples from across the city and testing for heavy metals. They then collated that information against data from the AEDC and the local NAPLAN scores. The AEDC and NAPLAN scores are supposed to reflect how well or poorly our youngest Australian brains are performing. The study attempted to account for socio-economic disadvantages. The government at the time shelled out $13 million to ‘revive the Environmental Lead program‘. I’m not sure how that is going five years later.

My parents kept telling us kids to avoid playing around the mine-shafts that littered the land around our home in Cornwall. Now it’s my turn to warn the kids to avoid ingesting the heavy metals strewn about Broken Hill by the mines. The north west of Broken Hill according to that study is looking like the best area for avoiding brain damage.

(Updated 26/1/2020 21:00)