Skip to main content

A new, interactive map of NSW has shown that the areas hardest hit by the recent bushfire crisis are also some of the areas in the state experiencing the most poverty.  

This new map from NCOSS and NATSEM at the University of Canberra, shows that the bushfires that ravaged parts of NSW, affected some of the highest poverty areas in the state, including:

  • Grafton Region – 18.2 per cent of people living in poverty.
  • Kempsey Region – 19.2 per cent of people living in poverty.
  • Port Macquarie - 15.6 per cent of people living in poverty.
  • Lithgow Region – 15.3 per cent of people living in poverty.


  • Batemans Bay – 19.5 per cent of people living in poverty.
  • Eurobodalla Hinterland – 15.2 per cent of people living in poverty.
  • Bega-Eden Hinterland – 15.2 per cent of people living in poverty.

NCOSS CEO Joanna Quilty said the new analysis highlights the challenge ahead for government, community organisations at the front-line and others wanting to make a difference.  

“The bushfire crisis has been catastrophic for communities throughout NSW and Australia, and this research demonstrates how big the rebuilding challenge will be,” Ms Quilty said.

“We know communities outside of metropolitan areas generally do it tougher. This new information shows locations impacted by bushfires were already experiencing above average poverty levels.

“Put simply, these fires hit hardest where people are already doing it the toughest.

“This research also shows that for some cohorts of people rates of poverty are higher still, including children, people in the private rental market, Aboriginal communities and people with disabilities.

“The aftermath of the bushfires only intensifies the immense challenges facing these communities and the local service providers doing their best to meet increased need with limited resources.

“We need to ensure that Government and the big charities work together so that resources get to those on the ground, including smaller local organisations who support the most marginalised.”

Professor Robert Tanton from NATSEM at the University of Canberra said that in many cases, where a family has low income, their property or vehicles may be underinsured, so they will struggle to replace them.

“This highlights the need for urgent financial assistance to these communities, and targeted relief to low income families who may have been underinsured,” Professor Tanton said.

To find out more about NCOSS, visit:

Media contact: Nick Trainor (NCOSS) 0407 078 138

Background - Calculating poverty/significant economic disadvantage

For the purposes of this research, the benchmark of middle or median incomes across Australia is used, with the threshold of 50% below this benchmark being the ‘poverty line’. This method is widely used in national research on poverty.