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Worrying figures for Seymour

Some thought-provoking reading in a new report measuring disadvantage.

CHALPAT SONTI April 2, 2014 12:39am

Central Ranges LLEN Environmental Scan 2014


Just how economically and socially disadvantaged Seymour is compared to the rest of Mitchell Shire has been measured in a new report.

The Central Ranges Local Learning and Employment Network’s annual Environmental Scan — launched last week — draws data from a wider range of sources than many other similar reports and makes for interesting reading.

With the north of the shire predicted to experience barely any population growth in the next 20 years, services provided here will have to be ‘‘distinct to its own’’, the report says.

On the index of relative socio-economic disadvantage, Seymour comes out well on top of the southern towns, with educational attainment and income significantly lower. It is ranked 172nd in Australia, or in the bottom nine per cent, in relation to socio-economic disadvantage.

It also ranks as in the bottom eight per cent of areas in the nation for access to economic resources (income and wealth) and in the bottom 10 per cent of towns in relation to educational and income opportunities.

The report, noting the north-south divide, said the north of the shire would require support services and community activities to offset the disadvantage. There were possibilities for education and employment — including rural tourism — with links to work and employment networks to increase the ‘‘perceived value of schooling’’.

There needed to be programs to help ‘‘disengaged’’ students and there was the potential to engage parents not in the workforce to be involved in community, educational or recreational pursuits.

Central Ranges LLEN said the report would provide organisations working in the area the opportunity to reflect on specific local trends and opportunities. It would help in strategic planning, program planning and grant applications, among other things.

Chief executive Boyd Maplestone said despite Seymour’s lowly ranking in some areas, there was also plenty to celebrate including the achievements of schools around the likes of vocational training.

VET completion rates increased by 16 per cent at Seymour College from 2011 to 2012 and VCAL rates by 38 per cent. ‘‘There are also some opportunities (outlined in the report), some of which are pretty obvious but others which are thought-provoking to try and get people thinking,’’ he said.

These included the likes of diversifying the industry base, expand the health, education and equine sectors and ensuring appropriate training opportunities for areas of high unemployment such as Seymour.

The report is available at www.centralrangesllen.org.au

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