Logan Central is an outer-ring suburb in the Brisbane metropolitan area located within the Local Government Area (LGA) of Logan City, and the Level 3 Statistical Area (SA3) of Springwood-Kingston. Logan Central is approximately 20 kilometres south of the Brisbane CBD and has a 2011 population of 6174 residents. The case study site, Logan Central, is one of 63 suburbs that comprise Logan City and was formerly part of the low-income suburb of Woodridge. As such, its fortune cannot be understood in isolation of the broader area in which it is located. In light of this, the discussion frequently refers to issues facing Logan City as a whole, and not simply the single suburb of Logan Central. Logan City is physically divided by the Pacific highway which runs through the LGA from north to south. On the eastern side of the highway are the affluent suburbs of Daisy Hill, Springwood and Shailer Park, while the western side contains the more disadvantaged suburbs of Logan Central, Woodridge, Kingston Slacks Creek, Loganlea, Eagleby, Beenleigh, Crestmead, Marsden and Waterford West. Reference to Logan as a place of disadvantage typically applies to these western suburbs—a practice that will be followed in this report.

Aboriginals from the Yugambeh and Jaggera language groups were the original inhabitants of the Logan River district. Today, Logan Central’s population is relatively Anglo-dominant (i.e. English, Irish, Scottish) although the suburb reports an above average concentration of recently arrived migrants. More broadly, 26.1 per cent of the total population of Logan City is identified as being born overseas. Logan Central is also a relatively young suburb, with one quarter of the population aged zero to 14 years.

Logan Central is the administrative centre of Logan City and a key business activity node alongside Browns Plains, Marsden, Meadowbrook, Shailer Park and Springwood. District level community facilities such as the Central Library, Art Gallery, Central Community Centre, the Logan Entertainment Centre and the Logan City Council administration building are located in Logan Central. Logan Central is service rich with a range of social support services located within the suburb.

In 2011, Logan Central was identified as a socioeconomically disadvantaged suburb, with all SA1s in the suburb belonging to the lowest quintile of SEIFA Index of Relative Socioeconomic Disadvantage (IRSD) within Australia. A low IRSD signifies the prevalence of the following characteristics: low income; a high level of unemployment; a high proportion of workers in low-skilled occupations; low rent; overcrowding; a high proportion of families with children under 15 and jobless parents; a high proportion of single-parent families; a high number of carless households; a high proportion of non-age-related disability; poor English proficiency; a high number of separated/divorced residents; and a high proportion of households with no (or dialup) internet connection. In the current study, Logan Central represents a ‘Type 4’ disadvantaged suburb that is high on overseas movers, somewhat low on change in unemployment and low on change in incidence of low status jobs.

While SEIFA data indicate that Logan Central is a community with significant social needs, stakeholders and residents interviewed for this study often described the community as one with a strong sense of pride. Interviewees referred to the people of Logan City as ‘resilient’, pointing to the way the community comes together at times of crisis to assist and support one another. Through interaction and engagement with the individuals who contributed to the research (i.e. key stakeholders, service providers, and residents) it is evident that they share a common vision for the city and one that places Logan and its people on an upward trajectory. Often overlooked by the media are the many community champions who are committed to investing in a positive future for their city; the strong social networks and community groups working to bring about change; and the young people who, with guidance and support, are seen as bringing to fruition the future success of Logan.

Case study research aims

The case study work was undertaken as part of a larger project examining concentrations of disadvantage in Australia’s major capital cities—Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The overall aims of the research are to investigate:
1. How concentrations of social disadvantage are conceptualised, defined and measured?
2. What housing and urban processes contribute to the creation and perpetuation of these patterns?
3. The consequences of living in a disadvantaged area for the residents concerned.
4. How policy-makers and others can respond to spatial disadvantage in ‘best for people, best for place’ terms?
The main objectives of the case study work were to better understand the experience of living in a ‘disadvantaged area’, to explore the pros and cons of these places from residents’ perspectives, and to investigate the role that housing, planning and associated interventions may play in either exacerbating or tackling local problems.
Higher level aims included exploring the extent to which urban Australia’s ‘most disadvantaged areas’ are seen as such by local people and whether negative ‘neighbourhood effects’ are operative. This refers to the possibility that living in a ‘poor neighbourhood’ can compound the impact of poverty and disadvantage affecting an individual (Atkinson & Kintrea 2001).

Also important in the fieldwork was to ‘groundtruth’ or validate the disadvantaged area typology category attributed each case study locality.

Case study methodology

Undertaken during April to November 2013, the case study work involved five elements:
1. Background analysis of 2001 and 2011 census data on the selected suburb.
2. Media coverage relating to the selected suburb (and, in this instance, the broader area of Logan City).
3. Document analysis—government and other reports about the selected suburb (and, in this instance, the Logan City area as a whole).
4. In-depth interviews with local stakeholders.
5. Resident focus group meeting.

News databases Factiva and Press Display were utilised to undertake initial searches for media content with the key search term Logan City applied to a date range of 1 January 2004 to 19 April 2013. Sources included The Australian (website and publication content), The Courier Mail, Brisbane Times, ABC Network (all sources) and SBS World News Headline stories and commercial television new programs such as A Current Affair. Individual media sites for these outlets were also reviewed utilising each site’s search engine.

Stakeholder interviewee selection was, to some extent, guided according to a standard list of potentially relevant participants. However, it also involved ‘snowballing’—that is, being guided by interviewee recommendations as to other potentially appropriate contributors. A total of 13 stakeholders from local, state and federal government; the NGO community sector; police/justice; education providers; housing providers; and community representatives participated in the research. In line with our ethical protocol, respondent views represented in this report are not attributed to individuals.

The resident focus group involved an ethnically and demographically diverse group of fourteen local residents recruited with the kind assistance of Logan City Council.

Stakeholder interviews and resident focus group discussions were structured according to master topic guides common to all case studies within the wider project. However, for stakeholder meetings, these were necessarily adapted as appropriate to the area of knowledge/responsibility of the interviewee concerned.

Full report...