The Warrawong area has been shown to be among the most disadvantaged suburbs in the state, and clearly the worst off socioeconomically in the Illawarra.
New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have shown which of the region's postcodes are the most, and the least, advantaged and between Wollongong's northern and southern suburbs the difference is stark.
As cost of living pressures affect a growing range of the population, the analysis shows how far apart people's circumstances can be within the same city.
The ABS index of relative socioeconomic advantage and disadvantage showed postcode 2502 (Warrawong, Cringila, Lake Heights and Primbee) was the 21st most disadvantaged residential area in NSW.
Berkeley, postcode 2506, ranked 38th in the state while 2528 (Warilla, Windang, Barrack Heights) was 61st.
Each were in the 1st decile (tenth) for disadvantage in NSW.
In the northern suburbs, however, the 2515 postcode (Thirroul, Austinmer) was the 554th out of 606 postcodes for disadvantage.
Helensburgh and Stanwell Park (2508) was 535th for disadvantage.
Central Wollongong, 2500, was almost in the exact middle, ranked 330 out of 606 for disadvantage.
The ABS indexes were calculated using data from the 2021 Census.
The index shows a striking gap between the haves and have-nots within the Wollongong local government area.
Sydney's east and northern suburbs dominated the most advantaged rankings, while western and southwestern suburbs accounted for the most disadvantaged postcodes, along with some remote areas.
Earlier this week research commissioned by the Australian Council of Social Services and showed Warrawong with a poverty rate of 23 per cent, with West Wollongong at 19 per cent and Bellambi 15 per cent.
Nicky Sloan, CEO of the Community Industry Group, the peak body for community services in southern NSW, said it was important to remember behind the statistics are real people.
"In a wealthy country like Australia, it is simply unacceptable that almost one in four people in places like Port Kembla and Warrawong are struggling to survive below the poverty line," she said.
And on Thursday an interim report from the Senate's inquiry into poverty sparked calls to "wake up" about the extent of the problem.
In the Senate inquiry into the extent and causes of poverty, the Community Affairs References Committee on Thursday called on the Federal Government to take "urgent action" in the May Budget to "specifically target rising inequality and entrenched disadvantage".
This included through the welfare system, but the Government appears to have already said it will not be lifting the unemployment benefit rate known as Newstart.
In October last year the Mercury reported on how health outcomes in the Illawarra were closely linked to whether people lived in poorer or richer suburbs.
An analysis of Census data comparing income with the prevalence of ten different long-term health conditions shows that, in most cases, suburbs with a higher median income were less likely to be sick.
The reverse was also true, with the poorest suburbs more likely to have conditions like heart disease, diabetes, lung conditions, kidney disease and mental health problems.
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