What Are the Bad Areas to Avoid in Australia?

It’s a question I get asked quite often on this website, usually more specifically linked to a particular city. So, for example, “What are the bad areas to avoid in Brisbane?

Or “What are the bad areas to avoid in Sydney?

bad areaJust so that you know, the above image is NOT of a bad area of Sydney.

It’s a really difficult, if not impossible question for me to answer. Whilst I do have local knowledge of Brisbane, I know very little about what it’s really like living in Australia’s other major cities. You certainly don’t get to explore everywhere when you visit these places for just a week or so on holiday.

It’s also difficult because who am I to judge other people’s communities? I may have heard rumours from other people that certain suburbs are ‘bad areas’, but that would just be hearsay.

Unless you have actually lived in a community for some time on a day-to-day basis, how can you judge?

So I don’t, it’s a question I never answer. But the Australian government does provide official information about this kind of thing, except they use a different terminology. They do not talk about ‘good areas’ and ‘bad areas’, instead they call it this.

Socio-economic advantage and disadvantage

Basically the government take information from the national census like income, educational achievements, employment, types of dwelling, assets, expenditures and this builds up a pretty accurate picture of anything from affluence to hardship.

Or, advantage and disadvantage.

For example, this is what they say for the whole country.


“Peppermint Grove (WA) was recorded as Australia’s most advantaged Local Government Area (LGA), followed by Ku-ring-gai (NSW), Nedlands (WA), Cottesloe (WA) and Cambridge (WA).

Australia’s most disadvantaged LGA is Yarrabah (QLD), followed by Cherbourg (QLD), Belyuen (NT), Aurukun (QLD) and Woorabinda (QLD).”

They then go on to list individual pages for each of our states and territories and give information on the most advantaged and disadvantaged areas in those states as well as separately for the major cities.

I am going to give you one example using where I live, Brisbane, Queensland simply because it’s obviously the area I know best.


Most advantaged:

  1. Brisbane
  2. Weipa
  3. Redland
  4. Isaac
  5. Central Highlands

Most disadvantaged:

  1. Yarrabah
  2. Cherbourg
  3. Aurukun
  4. Woorabinda
  5. Napranum

Greater Brisbane

Most advantaged:

  1. Pinjarra Hills-Pullenvale
  2. Fig Tree Pocket
  3. Brookfield-Kenmore Hills
  4. Chapel Hill
  5. Wakerley

Most disadvantaged:

  1. Riverview
  2. Inala-Richlands
  3. Wacol
  4. Logan Central
  5. Woodridge

You can then, with the wonder that is known as Google Street View, take a gander at these places.

Let’s start with the advantaged areas, this is Pinjarra Hills. You can rotate the image by clicking on the rotating icon towards the bottom right-hand side…

Yes, I do know the area very well, it’s basically countryside, with probably no more than 300 to 400 houses.

Here is a good aerial photograph of Pullenvale; unfortunately I cannot embed it, but if you click this link – https://goo.gl/maps/ElG9F – it will open in a new window.

As you can see, lots of very big houses, all on acreage, most of them with swimming pools. Pullenvale is a very affluent area.

Now let’s look at the disadvantaged areas, this is Riverview…

Now let’s pop over and have a look at Logan Central. I’ve chosen Logan Central because with fantastic timing, Google Street View grabbed their images at a time when that suburb was having what we call kerbside collections.

This is when the local council collect rubbish, usually large unwanted items, from the side of the road for free. Of course, this gives these images a real ‘disadvantaged’ look about them…

I’m not sure, but I would imagine wherever you are, you’re probably thinking these two disadvantaged areas don’t look too bad at all. So you’re probably wondering whether this socio-economic thingy is any good or not?

As a Brisbane resident I can tell you that from what I know and what I hear, this information is pretty much spot on. All the areas which they say are advantaged indeed are very well off areas. No doubt about that.

The information about the disadvantaged areas is pretty accurate as well, from what I’ve heard. I have driven through Riverview many times, it’s not what you would call a scary place though. Same with Inala and Richlands, I’ve been to these places, they don’t strike me as being that bad, but then I don’t live there.

I’ve been to and I’ve driven through much scarier places in England, that’s for sure.

How do you access this information?

So, if you want to research areas in other states or major cities around Australia, here’s what you need to do. Go to:

When you get there, on the left-hand side you will see an index like this…

ABS IndexIf it doesn’t look like that, you need to click the plus sign + next to 2011 Census (SEIFA) for Australia (Media Release). You can then access this information for our eight states and territories and major capitals. You can see the links to each of them below the link in bold text.

There is also some older information from the previous census which you may find useful on this page:

I do hope you find this information useful as you try to decide exactly where to live here in Australia. Do remember also that if you want to find out where people who have moved here from your country generally head to, then this page is for you.

Update May 2018:

The Australian Census 2016 has now been completed, and the ABS have come up with a fantastic interactive map to help you check each suburb or town individually. Check out my post about it here:

Visa Assessment Service
{ 19 comments… add one }
  • John September 14, 2017, 7:46 pm |

    You really have to know where to go to see the bad things and most illegal things happen behind closed doors these areas are only bad if you get involved with the bad stuff

    • BobinOz September 15, 2017, 8:05 pm |

      Nothing bad going on behind my close doors, all fully legal, honest. Nothing to see here, move along people, move along…

      Seriously though, I take your point John, it’s normally not too difficult to keep out of the way of the bad stuff, there’s usually no need to get involved if you don’t want to.

  • alejandro May 16, 2016, 7:33 am |

    Hi bob!
    Is there a bether and worst list o “Dog Lovers” neighborhoods?
    I am moving with my dogs and sometimes they can be noisy.


    • BobinOz May 16, 2016, 4:34 pm |

      Hi Alejandro

      I don’t think there is a suburb or neighbourhood anywhere in Australia that likes noisy dogs, particularly dogs that bark during the night. If your dogs are noisy, you should really look to live on acreage out in the countryside and a long way from the nearest next door neighbour.

      Good luck, Bob

  • djmcbell May 11, 2016, 9:15 pm |

    “Just so that you know, the above image is NOT of a bad area of Sydney.”

    You mean that image is from a GOOD area of Sydney?!?


    Regarding the kerbside collections, on my last trip to Oz we stayed for a week near Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. Very nice area, lots of big houses, but a house opposite had put out a sofa on the kerb. At first I thought that it was making it look run-down (the area I live in here in the UK isn’t particularly brilliant and people just dump stuff, or fly-tip, all over the place) – until I realised that it was part of this kerbside collections malarkey.

    • BobinOz May 12, 2016, 7:38 pm |

      That’s right, you can’t see in the photo, but it overlooks Sydney Harbour. Honest.

      Funnily enough, some people put half decent items of furniture out on the curbside at any time of the year, and stick a sign on it saying ‘Free if you want it’, or something similar.

      By coincidence, we’ve just had a curbside collection in our suburb this week, it does make the place look rather scruffy for a while, but it is a good idea.

  • Mark May 11, 2016, 7:09 pm |

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for posting a lot of useful information.

    4 out of 5 Australia’s most advantaged LGAs are from WA. 4 out of 5 Australia’s most disadvantaged LGAs are from QLD.

    Does this mean WA is better than to QLD in terms of living standards?

    • BobinOz May 11, 2016, 9:10 pm |

      Well, I can see how this information can make it look as though that might be the case, but no, I wouldn’t say there is any real difference whatsoever in the living standards between Queensland and WA.

      I’m guessing here, but at the time when this information was gathered, 2011, Western Australia were going through a major mining boom and there was a lot money sploshing around the state, so I imagine that is why they had so many affluent areas.

      I think things might be quite a bit different when the next report comes out.

      As for Queensland having so many disadvantaged areas, I noticed that at least four of those areas mentioned in the top five are aboriginal communities. We certainly have a lot more aboriginals living here in Queensland than in Western Australia, but not as many as NSW.

      Queensland has a lot more remote areas than New South Wales though, and it’s the remote areas that seem to suffer the most disadvantages.

      That’s my theory anyway, but no, as I’ve said, there is no noticeable difference in the standard of living between Queensland and Western Australia.

      • Mark May 12, 2016, 10:19 pm |

        Yes, it makes sense. Thanks for providing detailed explanation.

        • BobinOz May 15, 2016, 9:24 pm |

          Well, it was an interesting question, made me stop and think quite a bit. I’m pretty good at thinking these days, especially when I’ve got my mate Google to help me with some real facts 🙂

  • Warwick Wakefield January 2, 2016, 9:00 am |

    Hi Bob,

    I realize that this is off-subject but I don’t know how to contact you apart from this channel.
    There is something that your British readers will like to know about – bushfires.

    It would be good to discuss whether or not it is unavoidable that houses are destroyed every year.
    Very many people insist on having their homes right up against the bush; does this make it inevitable that homes will be destroyed when the bush catches fire?

    Many people insist on having house built from timber, which is understandable because timber is such a beautiful material, but does this also make it inevitable that these houses will be destroyed?

    Is it possible to build bush-fire proof houses? I have heard about one such house, designed specifically to resist bushfires. It was built of concrete, it was in the middle of a bushfire and the flames passed over it, leaving it more or less intact. I think one or two windows might have been destroyed.

    In the USA it is the custom to build basements; could that practice be adopted here?

    It would be good to discuss the different degrees of intensity of bushfires. Some fires advance more or less gradually. Others, on very hot and windy days. when the bush has not been burnt back for a long time, and there is a large amount of fuel lying about, are characterized by whole ridge-lines exploding into flames instantaneously.

    This is a very contentious subject. Some people are intensely opposed to precautionary burning in the cool seasons and others consider it to be a simple necessity.

    It is something alien to your British readers; they might be interested to know about it.

    • BobinOz January 3, 2016, 8:26 pm |

      Yes, we are certainly into bushfire season at the moment and as you know, many houses have already been lost to the flames. I have written about this subject before, and whilst I haven’t covered quite a few of the points you have mentioned, I did have a good look at the dangers. You can read the post and see what I came up with, it’s called Bushfires in Australia: What Are the Risks?

      Obviously, it stands to reason that if your house is a long way from the bush, you are less likely to be caught in a bushfire. But I was lucky enough to find some thorough research, and as such put percentages and distances in place. You have made some good additional points though Warwick, maybe I’ll look into that for a future post.

      Cheers, Bob

      • Warwick Wakefield January 4, 2016, 8:40 am |

        Hi Bob,
        thanks for your reply.

        I looked up your previous post on the matter and it contained some very relevant information. The most obvious fact is that the closer your house is to the bush, the more likely it is to burn.
        But more people are becoming more fond of the bush as time goes by, so we can expect that danger to increase.
        Also, as we become wealthier more people build holiday homes, and these houses are more likely to be built in amongst the the trees. I can bring to mind at once many houses built within fifty feet of dense bush in the Blue Mountains.

        Thanks again for your great blog,

        • BobinOz January 4, 2016, 11:03 pm |

          Yes, I think the harsh reality is that anyone who chooses to live in the bush has to accept that with it comes the risk of being caught in the bush fire.

          If I were to build a house in the bush today, I’d certainly look into one of those concrete houses you mentioned that are apparently fireproof, I think it must be the only way going forward. That said, the risk of losing a house in the bush to a bushfire is relatively low.

          So maybe another option is to make sure that the personal effects, the things you really need to keep, are stored in a manner where they couldn’t possibly be destroyed by fire and that you and your family and any pets you might have have a well practised escape plan.

          That’s what I would be doing if I lived in the Blue Mountains or any of the other potential bushfire areas. Thanks Warwick, Bob

  • Katherine Doran January 2, 2016, 5:02 am |

    Hi is there an up to date list of socio economic advantage or disadvantaged areas?

    • BobinOz January 3, 2016, 8:17 pm |

      This list is based on the Australian census, I think we have those every five years. So this is as up-to-date as it gets at the moment, being based on the 2011 census, it’ll be a while before a new one comes out.

  • Julius October 18, 2015, 9:29 am |

    Hi Bob,

    Great site, very helpful especially for tourists.

    I have a question, and I don’t know if this exists in Australia, particularly in Perth. Is there a place that a tourist should avoid? Like dangerous and unsafe place. My wife and I planning to visit the city this year, and we’d like to know more about the place.

    Appreciate any advise and comments regarding my question.

    Thank you very much and keep up the good work.



    • BobinOz October 19, 2015, 5:17 pm |

      Julius, I’ve already answered this same question for you on my page about Western Australia.

  • Warwick Wakefield September 8, 2015, 3:57 pm |

    Hi Bob,
    what you’ve left out are some very obvious references.
    Among the disadvantaged, Cherbourg is an Aboriginal community, a kind of reservation. Cherbourg has never been integrated into the wider Australian society, and there are those amongst both the black and white communities who oppose integration.
    These people argue that integration would be nothing more than assimilation and that assimilation is simply the replacement of the Aboriginal traditions and customs with the Anglo-Saxon traditions and customs. Furthermore, it is argued that “disadvantage” is a white measurement that doesn’t apply to these black communities.

    Arakun is a remote Aboriginal community and the people who live there are descendents of the people who have lived there for more than 50,000 years.
    Can you classify this community according to the standards of a society which arrived in Australia just a fraction more than 200 years ago?

    Logan has a high concentration of Aboriginal and Pacific Islander people. These are urban blacks, but still the process of integration is slow and arduous.

    I don’t know about the other disadvantaged places but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the same conditions apply. It must be remembered that the Aboriginal folk of Australia were living their pre-white-contact style of life when Europe was occupied by Neanderthals.
    It would be astonishing were they to become lawyers and engineers in such a short time.

Leave a Comment

If your comment doesn’t get answered, find out why…..
FAQs and Comment Policy.