Poor state of rural health

About seven million people or 32% of the total Australian population live outside major cities.

On average, they have lower levels of education, lower incomes and poorer health risk factor profiles than people in the major cities.

People in these areas also have lower levels of access to health and other services; almost all health professionals are less prevalent, some dramatically so.

The need to travel to specialist services in capital cities, especially for ongoing treatment, can greatly disrupt occupations and family life.

Death rates in regional and remote areas are, on average, 1.05-1.15 and 1.2-1.7 times higher than in major cities, according to the National Rural Health Alliance. It estimates that overall life expectancy is up to four years lower in rural, regional and remote areas than in Australia’s major cities.

Suicide rates have consistently been found to be higher in rural than in metropolitan areas. Adolescent and young adult males, especially those in rural or remote areas, have particularly high suicide rates, the alliance says.