These are Canberra's most and least advantaged areas

Just two kilometres from one of Canberra's most advantaged areas sits a cluster of households at the opposite end of the scale.

Harrison is an intriguing example of social disparity in Canberra, with new data revealing the Gungahlin suburb is the only place in the capital that is home to one of its 20 most advantaged suburban enclaves, and one of its 20 least advantaged.

But looking around in both areas, you wouldn't necessarily know it.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics' new index of household advantage and disadvantage breaks Canberra down into 1019 very small areas, generally with between 200 and 800 residents.

The experimental index draws on data from the 2016 Census to measure relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage for households.

The bureau has produced similar studies before, but this index uses different indicators of advantage and disadvantage. The 25 measures include income, education, occupation, employment and housing.

Osprey Street, in an area of Harrison that is among the top 20 most advantaged parts of the ACT. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Osprey Street, in an area of Harrison that is among the top 20 most advantaged parts of the ACT. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

The index does not represent some aspects of advantage very well, including health, access to services, accumulated wealth and community participation, because there is limited information available.

Harrison's most advantaged area had 268 residents at the 2016 Census. The area includes Osprey, Sapling and Haven streets, as well as parts of Moonlight Avenue, Danjera Lane, Parsley Street and Felix Lane. Of the 75 households there, 76.6 per cent of them were in the upper quartile of advantage.

That pocket of advantage sits just two kilometres from one of Canberra least advantaged enclaves, which is dominated by townhouses on Kings Canyon Street. In that area of 320 residents, just 14.7 per cent were in the top quartile.

ACT Council of Social Services director Susan Helyar said this was proof there was disparity in every part of Canberra.

Kings Canyon Street, in a part of Harrison that is among the least advantaged parts of Canberra. Photo:  Elesa Kurtz

Kings Canyon Street, in a part of Harrison that is among the least advantaged parts of Canberra. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

"We don't have the same concentration of disadvantage or wealth that they have in some of the major cities," Ms Helyar said.

"We quite often have low-income households next to wealthy households, and that's because we have a housing policy that salt and peppers social housing and other types of housing in the suburbs.

"We absolutely support that because it reduces the risk of concentrating wealth and disadvantage, and it shows the importance of municipal-level investment in every suburb."

Christian Hanna, the director of the Australian Bureau of Statistics' migration and small population insights team, said 22 of Canberra's 1019 very small areas were in Harrison.

He said the Harrison areas at the upper end of the scale tended to have residents with higher levels of education, highly skilled jobs and higher incomes. Those in the lower quartile had lower household incomes, lower rates of home ownership, fewer residents with highly skilled occupations and more houses with just one bedroom.

A Sunday Canberra Times analysis of the new index reveals that when areas with fewer than 200 residents are excluded, half of the 20 most advantaged suburban enclaves in the capital are in Wright and Forde.

Our analysis also shows the areas with the lowest proportion of households in the upper quartile of advantage, but this does not necessarily mean those areas are the most disadvantaged.

A cluster of 123 households in Canberra's west is the city's most advantaged area.

This part of Wright – one of Canberra's newest developed areas – includes Lindsay Pryor, Strom, Clouston, Plumwood and Chelsworth streets, along with parts of David Fleay and Serventy streets.

It had 367 residents at the last Census, with 80.5 per cent of the households there ranked in the upper quartile of advantage.

Franklin, Nicholls, Crace, Coombs and Red Hill are also represented in the top 20 advantaged areas.

At the other end of the scale, the ACT has the smallest proportion of people living in Australia's least advantaged households, with 10 per cent of its population in the lowest quartile.

"This means the costs of living in the city, including housing, transport, children’s activities and recreation are set at a level that responds to the relatively high spending powers of the average household, which creates even greater exclusion for low-income households," Ms Helyar said.

The least advantaged part of Canberra, according to the index, is a pocket of Symonston. Closer examination reveals this cluster of 221 residents is home to long-stay caravan parks.

When areas with fewer than 200 residents are excluded, it is followed by an area of 139 Turner households with 251 residents.

Neither of those areas had any dwellings ranked in the upper quartile of advantage, and each had 65 per cent or more of its residents in the lowest quartile.

Symonston, Charnwood, Holt and Gungahlin each have multiple areas in the 20 least advantaged parts of Canberra.

The remainder of the 20 least advantaged areas are in Page, Belconnen, Mawson, Wanniassa, Isabella Plains, Hawker, Bruce and perhaps surprisingly, Braddon and Ainslie.