Despite the great life experienced by many of the more than 6.7 million who live in rural and remote Australia, and the resilient communities there, it must be recognised that the people of country areas experience deficits on many counts.
In its pursuit of a structurally sound budget, the Abbott Government must be sure not to make cuts that will further disadvantage vulnerable groups which, in aggregate, include those living in more remote areas. It must strike an appropriate balance between service cuts and measures to increase government revenue.
The people of rural and remote Australia should not have poorer access than those in the major cities to fundamental services such as education and telecommunications.
During the Election campaign the Alliance welcomed the Coalition's commitment to ensuring that educational resources would be targeted "based on the social and economic status of the community" (from Real Solutions). Funding to provide equitable secondary school completion rates across the nation would be a major contributor to rural families now and to rural and remote health and wellbeing into the future.
Funding education based on social and economic status will improve city-country equality, including in health outcomes. As with other public spending, investment in education should be shaped, timed and measured to ensure that people in rural and remote areas have no poorer access or outcomes than those in the cities.
As a result of the recent face-to-face meeting of its Council, the Alliance is in a strong position to support the Abbott Government in its moves to improve the nation's fiscal circumstances without damaging the interests of those who are already disadvantaged, including the people of rural, regional and remote areas. The Communiqué from that meeting is on the website at www.ruralhealth.org.au
Gordon Gregory - Executive Director: 02 6285 4660