Poor Aussies in Rural Areas Missing Out on Resources - Report
14 October 2013 at 2:33 pm
Australians living in poverty in rural and regional areas are missing out on resources including adequate health and dental care, good education and affordable quality food, according to a report on poverty in rural regional Australia.
The joint report between National Rural Health Alliance and ACOSS, titled A Snapshot of poverty in rural regional Australia, looked at the poverty and other resource disadvantages that prevent people in country areas from attaining the basic standard of living and access to services the rest of us take for granted.
National Rural Health Alliance Executive Director Gordon Gregory said there was a perception that somehow life in rural and regional areas was easier and cheaper, “away from the stresses and speed of life in our major cities”.
“In so many respects life in rural Australia is the best in the world, however, we know that country life brings its own set of stresses that are mostly unseen and not talked about,” he said.
“That’s precisely the reason for this joint effort by our two peak bodies to bring this reality to the attention of policy makers and our government leaders at all levels.
“People living in poverty in our country areas are missing out on opportunities and resources the rest of us enjoy, such as adequate health and dental care, good education, employment opportunities, affordable quality food and recreation.
“Overall the prevalence of deprivation is higher in large country towns and other rural areas than in our major cities.”
The report showed that in most states the unemployment rate outside the capital city is higher than in the capital city, especially in Queensland (capital city unemployment, 5.8 per cent and other areas 6.1 per cent) and Tasmania (capital city unemployment 6.2 per cent and other areas 81 per cent).
“One of the consequences of the widening gap between the rich and the poor over the past two decades has been that while the median income (i.e. the income upon which the poverty line is based) has increased, the increase has been driven more by higher incomes of the well-off, and less by the small increases in the income of the poor,” the report said.
“For example, the income of the unemployed has fallen, relative to the median income over the past two decades.”
Deputy CEO of ACOSS, Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine said: “We certainly want to see measures to address growing poverty in our country to be a priority of this Federal Parliament.
“We know that despite two decades of unprecedented growth, the gap between people who are doing well and those that are falling behind is growing. This includes the city-country divide.
“ACOSS’ major poverty report last year found that, allowing for the costs of housing, poverty is worse in rural, regional and remote areas (13.1 per cent outside capital cities) than in capital cities (12.6 per cent). Having more than two million people living below the poverty line in a country as wealthy as ours is simply unacceptable.
“It’s critical we all work together to improve the underlying factors that are leaving people behind in our country areas. These include reduced access to services such as health, education and transport, declining employment opportunities, lower incomes of people living in these regions, and distance and isolation.”
Gregory said there needs to be work on critical determinants of health, such as education, work, housing and transport, access to and the cost of goods and services, and community connectedness.