The Australian Social Inclusion Board (the Board) was established in May 2008 as the Australian Government’s advisory body on social inclusion. One of our terms of reference isto ‘provide views and input on social inclusion including how to measure disadvantage andsocial exclusion.’ The Board has prepared a compendium of headline indicators of socialinclusion as one means of consulting and providing input on the particular question of how tomeasure disadvantage and social exclusion.
The European Union (EU) began measuring social exclusion with an initial set of headline indicators in2001, and have since added to and subtracted from their selection of indicators. This compendiumcollects Australian data for these indicators in one place for the first time, which will doubtless provide aresource for academics, researchers and analysts with an interest in social inclusion.While providing an opportunity to compare and contrast the situation in Australia to countries in the EU,the compendium can also stimulate broader discussion of social inclusion issues and the best way tomeasure social inclusion in Australia where we can draw on international examples of performancemeasurement; where we can add value and improve measurement and where our particular circumstances might require a different approach. The data in this compendium will contribute to thework of the Board across its terms of reference, not only in the area of measuring social inclusion.The data it contains will support the development of our advice on how to improve social inclusion andwill help to identify areas for attention—for example, an initial scan indicates that groups of peoplereflected in more than one indicator of exclusion include the aged, public sector housing tenants, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, sole parent families and people of non
English speakingbackgrounds. It will also provide a foundation for our report on social inclusion, which will be producedlater in 2009 in response to another of our terms of reference. While this compendium is a collection of data, which is allowed to speak for itself, our report will contain a set of indicators, further developed inlight of the discussion and debate prompted by this compendium, and supplemented with the Board’scommentary, analysis and recommendations. A challenge for the Board has been to order and prioritise the wide-ranging information available. TheIndicators Working Group of the Board has navigated through the data, to arrive at the most usefulselection and comparisons, with assistance from the Social Inclusion Unit of the Department of thePrime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C).The introductory Overview by Professor Vinson outlines the origins and development of the concept of social inclusion and ways in which some countries are systematically measuring progress, especiallywithin the EU. The current global economic circumstances will impact upon the social domainsassessed by many of these indicators. Where Australia has seen a decade of increasing labour forceparticipation and decreasing unemployment rates, that trend is expected to change. As the situationunfolds the Board will continue to closely monitor the financial and social impacts felt by Australians.My thanks go to Professor Tony Vinson, Ms Kerry Graham, Dr Ngiare Brown, Professor Fiona Stanleyand the staff of the Social Inclusion Unit.This compendium can be found online at www.socialinclusion.gov.au along with more on the work of the Australian Social Inclusion Board.If you want to comment on the compendium please use the comments section on the social inclusionwebsite or email the Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org.Patricia Faulkner, AOChair—Australian Social Inclusion BoardFebruary 2009