The Index of Relative Socioeconomic Advantage and Disadvantage listed Port Augusta in South Australia’s top ten most disadvantaged Local Government Areas (LGA). Socioeconomic disadvantage is defined in terms of people’s access to material and social resources. Attributes include unemployment, income, poor educational attainment, insufficient service availability and disconnected community structure. These variables all contribute to individual, family and community vulnerability to social exclusion, isolation and child neglect.

The known associations between social exclusion, isolation and child neglect present significant risks for children, particularly during the early developmental years. The effects of neglect are known to be compounded when disadvantage, social exclusion and isolation are intergenerational, which is observable among many families in Port Augusta. However, there is good news. Research indicates that when opportunities exist to increase social inclusion, the effects of disadvantage on children’s development and wellbeing can decrease. As well, social inclusion has associations with trust, social cohesion and social capital which offers benefits that extend beyond that of the individual and family.

Programs and community supports that foster initiatives to increase social inclusion can therefore help to buffer the effects of socioeconomic disadvantage on families and their children.

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