Fraser Coast living standards low
THE FUTURE of those living on the Fraser Coast is bleak if a new State Government report is on the mark.
Drawing on statistics collected between 2003 and June last year, the Treasury report says we are seriously socio-economically disadvantaged with an astonishing 48.9 per cent of our population in that group and scoring 28.9 per cent higher than the Qld average.
“The index focuses on low-income earners, relatively lower education attainment, high unemployment and dwellings without motor vehicles,” the Qld Regional Profiles report explains.
More than 52 per cent of us are earning a gross individual weekly income of less than $400 – 12.6 per cent higher than the state average.
Our unemployment rate as of June last year was 7.2 per cent compared with Qld’s 4.4 per cent. Almost 3000 were listed as unemployed out of a workforce totalling 40,400.
Maryborough MP Chris Foley said yesterday that while we are clearly living in a district with significant socio-economic disadvantage he believes the State Government needs to act.
“This report is further proof that the rail contracts, which are on a knife edge with EDI Bombardier absolutely need to come to Maryborough – remembering that Hervey Bay people also work there.
“The government’s own report has highlighted our social and economic disadvantage so this is not the time to be sending Qld jobs off-shore.”
The report says that more of us are technicians and trades workers – 16.5 per cent compared with the State’s 15.4 per cent and our labourers score 2.2 per cent higher than the average, while our professionals come in at 3.9 per cent lower.
The retail trade is our top employer, 13.3 per cent, health care and social assistance comes in second and construction third. Arts and recreation services employ the least number of people. Education and training employs 8.2 per cent of us.
Lifeline general manager Paul Scully said we needed to look at what industry we can attract to the region. “We need a strong and diversified industry base .”
Having the university here was “great”, he said. “I have 35 staff and in recent times new staff are coming out of our university. We need to stay on the track of being a smart thinking, productive region. We need to achieve sustainable employment that grows with the region.”
Meanwhile our population is expanding at 1.5 per cent faster, most of us – 62.1 per cent – are aged 15 to 64 and 18.9 per cent among us are over 65. That’s 18.9 per cent higher for the region than the state’s 12.3 per cent over 65s. But the projection is we’ll grow at 2.3 percent to 2026, while the state drags the chain at 1.8 per cent.
Hervey Bay nurtures more of us than does Maryborough, with Booral, Toogoom and River Heads following and Maroom coming out as the most exclusive – only 281 call it home.
Some of us speak no English, or “not well” – 1.2 per cent compared with the state average of 0.4 per cent.
Our students prefer government schools. More than 74 per cent go to a public school and 25.4 per cent are learning private. The Qld averages are 67.9 per cent and 32.1 per cent.
Only 35.2 per cent of us over 15 went to Years 11 or 12 compared with 49.5 per cent State-wide and while 45 per cent of us have a post-school qualification, the state scores 50.4 per cent.
We are a gypsy region. At the time of the 2006 census 51 per cent or 40,782 people were living at a different address five years earlier. Across Qld the percentage was 47.6 per cent.
And 15,882 of us were living somewhere else within Australia a year earlier, while 434 were living overseas.
Couples with no children are the dominant family type here – 11,512 couples all up. Just over 8400 couples were living together with children while one parent families totalled 3768, accounting for 15.7 per cent of all families in the region.
Agricultural production here accounts for almost $60 million, or 0.7 per cent of the state’s total agricultural production. Crops and livestock slaughterings are our major commodities.
By the end of 2007 there were 5,693 businesses on the Coast, 1.4 per cent of all Qld businesses. Of those, 5496 were small businesses – 96.5 per cent of the total, 189 were medium and just nine were large.
Business turnover less than $100,000 came from 2591 businesses. Almost 2100 businesses turned over $100,000 to $500,000 and 552 reaped $1 million or more.
In the year ending September 2009 there were 834 residential dwelling unit approvals on the Fraser Coast. These approvals were valued at $171.7 million and accounted for 2.4 per cent of the state’s total.