Region rates well in social services report

Most towns in Sunbury and the Macedon Ranges can be considered advantaged communities, according to a major national study.

But the Dropping Off the Edge report, which looks at indicators including income, housing stress, education, unemployment, domestic violence and criminal convictions, reveals that Lancefield and Kyneton are somewhat disadvantaged.

The report shows school readiness in Lancefield and Romsey was towards the poorer end of the 667 Victorian localities reviewed.

Produced by Jesuit Social Services and Catholic Social Services Australia, the report uses data collected from a range of government agencies.

Postcodes were ranked on each indicator, with high rankings indicating an area was significantly disadvantaged in the stated categories.

These rankings were then used to construct a more comprehensive analysis including all indicators to produce an overall ranking of disadvantage.

New Gisborne, Riddells Creek and Macedon were listed among the state’s “most advantaged” areas.

Sunbury, Gisborne, Woodend and Romsey were, overall, considered “advantaged”.

Lancefield and Kyneton were found to be “disadvantaged”.

Only Malmsbury was listed among the “most disadvantaged”, being the home of a youth justice centre recording high rankings for criminal convictions, prison admissions, unemployment and disengaged young people.

Romsey and Lancefield fared poorly in school readiness (61st and 38th respectively), year 3 numeracy (152nd and 135th) and criminal convictions (183rd and 137th).

Kyneton was at the higher end of the scale for disengaged young people (160th), long-term unemployment (159th), year 9 reading (156th), child maltreatment (138th) and psychiatric admissions (119th).

Critics said figures used in the report, which follows similar studies released in 2007, 2004 and 1999, could be dated and skewed, with smaller sample sizes used in less populated towns.

Macedon Ranges council community wellbeing director Karen Stevens said the school readiness score was based on a three-year-old study involving 81 children in Romsey and 29 in Lancefield.

‘We don’t know anything about the tested children’s individual situations and whether they attended kindergarten in the year prior to school,’’ Ms Stevens said. ‘‘However, council will certainly consider this report, along with other sources, in the development of an early- years plan over the next 12 months.”