Public narratives of disadvantage across multiple groups in Australia: a research map and practice reflections

Peter Bragge, Simon Angus, Alexander Fischer, Alyse Lennox, Alex R. Piquero, Tim Reddel, Liam Smith, Lucas Walsh, Rebecca Wickes, Abby Wild, Nicholas Faulkner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This paper provides the first known “heatmap” representing Australian public narratives across a range of groups experiencing disadvantage developed from a comprehensive literature review of primary Australian studies between 2020 and 2021. Eleven narratives were identified across 14 population groups with the most frequent being deficit narratives, misrepresentation of the issue and ‘absent’ narratives (group being described not represented in the narrative). The most frequently described groups were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people living with a disability, racial minorities and women. The heatmap resonated with three global review-level studies and findings of supplementary qualitative interviews. Examination of relationships between the heatmap and empirical Australian disadvantage data enabled identification of missing and misleading public narratives. Attempts to disrupt such narratives can improve the understanding of disadvantage by more truthfully reflecting the lives, experiences and challenges of groups experiencing disadvantage. Updates to the heatmap can enable analysis of the impact of disruption strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • disadvantage
  • heatmap
  • media narratives
  • review

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