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Neighbourhood Employment and Housing Precarity (NEHP) Index

The Neighbourhood Employment and Housing Precarity (NEHP) Index is a pilot tool that was developed to better understand the impacts of COVID-19. It is constructed from a combination of six employment, housing and financial indicators that affect people's capacity to remain in place and distance from others. As such, the Index ranks neighbourhoods within Melbourne and Sydney according to people's ability to comply with movement restrictions. It is intended to assist authorities in developing appropriate and equitable policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and future infectious disease outbreaks.

Melbourne (Significant Urban Areas)

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Greater Sydney

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The NEHP Index was developed as part of a Master of Public Health research project, which sought to describe the spatial correlation between certain socio-economic conditions and COVID-19 hotspots. The indicators selected for inclusion were based on a priori knowledge and current literature that link precarious employment, housing and financial circumstances to exposure to infectious diseases.


The Index includes:

  • ability to work from home;

  • proximity to others in the workplace;

  • access to emergency funds; and

  • precarious housing conditions such as overcrowding. 


These indicators were standardised, weighted equally and summed to create a single, composite score. 

The NEHP Index differs from other commonly used metrics (e.g., SEIFA) in that it is specifically comprised of indicators which have been evidenced as sensitive to the impact of infectious disease outbreaks and policies to contain them, such as an occupation’s proximity to others in the workplace.  
The Index was mapped for Melbourne and Sydney at the Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2). An area with a high score (dark green) is representative of neighbourhoods that are more mobile and that have reduced capacity to distance and isolate and are therefore at greater risk of exposure to infectious diseases. A lower score (yellow) represents neighbourhoods in which people are less exposed to infectious disease outbreaks. For example, people residing in these areas are more likely to work in occupations that are amenable to work-from-home arrangements. 

The Index is a scalable and iterative tool that offers an alternative, place-based approach to policy development for infectious disease preparedness and outbreak response. The research team is continually reviewing and updating the Index. 

Feedback or questions?

Contact the research team at

Suggested Citation  

Mansour, A., Martino, E., & Bentley, R. (2021). Neighbourhood Employment and Housing Precarity (NEHP) Index. [interactive map]. Retrieved from


The NEHP Index was constructed using secondary, publicly available Australian Census data, simulated Census-based data from third-party data custodians, and open-source data from the following sources:

Australian Bureau of Statistics, (2017): Occupation (SA2) 2016; accessed from Census TableBuilder on 2020-08-05. 

Australian Bureau of Statistics, (2019): ABS - Data by Region - Family & Community (SA2) 2011-2016; accessed from AURIN on 2020-08-05. 

Dingel, J., & Neiman, B, 2020, How Many Jobs Can be Done at Home? GitHub, 

National Center for O*NET Development, (n.d.): Work Context — Physical Proximity; accessed from O*NET on 2020-08-05. 

Torrens University Australia - Public Health Information Development Unit, (2019): Housing Atlas (PHA) 2016; accessed from PHIDU on 2020-08-05. 

University of Canberra - National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, (2018): NATSEM - Social and Economic Indicators - Synthetic Estimates SA2 2016; accessed from AURIN on 2020-08-05.  

University of New South Wales - City Futures Research Centre, (2017): UNSW CFRC - Overcrowded Households Australia (SA2) 2016; accessed from AURIN on 2020-08-05. 

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