Bordering the Murray River and the South Australian border, the Mallee Area Partnership extends to the edge of the outback in far north-western Victoria and includes four local government areas:
- Mildura Rural City Council
- Swan Hill Rural City Council
- Shires of Buloke
- Shire of Ganawarra.
Agriculture drives the Mallee’s vibrant economy with the area surrounding Mildura, Robinvale and Swan Hill among the most productive horticultural regions in Victoria. But there are also pockets of socioeconomic disadvantage.
The Mallee Area is culturally diverse, with a large Aboriginal population and a growing number of skilled migrants and resettled refugees.
The Mallee Area is home to about 90,000 people with an average household size of 2.5 people. The annual population increase in the Mallee area from 2004-2014 was 0.1%, well below the state average of 1.7%. The projected annual population growth for 2014-2024 is 0.4% with a projected population for 2024 of 93,764.
Almost one third (32.3%) of people in Mallee Area are aged between 0-24 and about one in five (19.7%) people are aged 0-14. The area has over 13,000 families with 68.6% of families including children aged 15 years and younger. About 12.7% of families with children have a low income compared to a state average of 8.7%.
The percentage of people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin is the highest in Victoria, with 4.1 % of the total population being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin, compared to the state average of 0.9%. The Aboriginal child population of 1,436 makes up 3.2 % of the total Mallee Area child population, compared to the Victorian average of 1.3%. The majority of the area’s Aboriginal child population live in Mildura (63%) and Swan Hill (30%).
Volunteering rates in Mallee are high with 3 out of ten people giving up their spare time to help out others.
The vast majority of children in the Mallee Area are healthy and well (97.1%) 1. A child’s health in their early years has a positive influence on how they develop, grow and learn. The Mallee Area has the highest percentage of children attending the 3.5 year old maternal and child health check in Victoria, with 69.6% of all children attending this visit, compared to the state average of 66.1% - participation is highest in Buloke (86.4%) and lowest in Gannawarra LGA (56%). Nine out of ten (88.9%) children are fully immunised by 27 months of age.
The Mallee Area provides a offers a safe environment for most children with 95.6% of parents with children aged under 13 years of age saying their neighbourhood is safe.1 However, family violence is a serious problem in the Mallee Area which has the highest rate of family violence in the state (in 2013/2014 the rate was 2,299.7 per 100,000 population). Children were present during one third of these incidents.
Access to early learning plays a crucial role in getting their kids ready for primary school. In Mallee Area more three out of four children have an adult in their life who reads to them every day. In 2015, 98.5% of eligible children in the area participated in kindergarten.
Children’s developmental vulnerability when they start school is a real challenge in the Mallee Area, with 12.5% of children developmentally vulnerable on two or more domains at school entry.
The area also has a high number of children with emotional or behavioral problems at school entry (7.6% compared with state average 4.6%).
In 2014, 85.3% of people 19 years or older had completed Year 12 in the Mallee Area well below the state average of 88.2%. Most students in grade 5 and 6 (88.3%) report feeling connected to their school (this is the similar to the state average) and 64.3% students in year 7 to 9 say they feel connected to school – this is high than the state average of 62.3%.
Data sources include:
1 Victorian Child Health and Wellbeing Survey: Number of children aged 0 to 13 years of age who are reported to have ‘good’, ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ health.