Rural health poorer than in cities: report

Young woman with backpack on rural road looking to somewhere

By Margaret Scheikowski
(Australian Associated Press)

Suicide rates are 66 per cent higher in the country than in Australian cities, while deaths from all causes in remote areas is 40 per cent higher.

The data is contained in the inaugural Medical Research and Rural Health report, released by Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research on Tuesday.

“This first of its kind report provides a valuable and compelling insight into rural health in Australia,” the institute’s chief executive Andrew Giles says.

The report, which will help policy makers and researchers, shows who’s affected, the existing challenges and the way forward to rectify some of the major health issues.

It examined health in line with the National Health Priority Areas (NHPAs) of asthma, arthritis, cancer control, cardiovascular health, diabetes, mental health, obesity, and dementia.

It then provided context, where available, with the wider Australian population and these conditions.

“The health of Australians in rural and remote areas is generally poorer than that of people who live in major cities and town,” the report said.

“Populations living in rural and remote areas make up 30 per cent of the population, but do not receive anywhere near 30 per cent of health funding.”

On the positive side, Australians living in rural areas generally have higher levels of social cohesiveness, with higher rates of participation in volunteer work and feelings of safety in their community.


* higher mortality rates and lower life expectancy;

* higher reported rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity;

* higher death rates from chronic disease;

* higher prevalence of mental health problems including dementia; and

* higher rates of alcohol abuse and smoking


* lower levels of income, employment and education;

* higher occupational risks, particularly associated with farming and mining;

* geography and the need for more long distance travel;

* access to fresh foods and

* access to health services.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14


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