Report after report has shown that the health status of remote Australians is worse than both city and rural populations on almost every indicator.
Fact – risk factors for poor health such as smoking and obesity are higher in remote Australia. These factors are proven to contribute to ill health and the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, amongst others.
Fact - 20% more people in remote areas are living with disease when compared with those living in the city.
Fact - the death rates due to diabetes, suicide, lung disease and heart disease are significantly higher in remote Australia.
Fact - people in remote Australia die around three years earlier than people in metropolitan areas.
Kim Webber, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance says “The facts, sadly, speak for themselves. And despite having the highest health care needs, this highly dispersed population also has the worst access to health services.”
Providing health services to the population of remote Australia is challenging. The distances are vast and the majority of the remote towns have populations of less than 1,000 people.
“As a country we are failing the half a million people who live in remote Australia. Difficulties accessing health services means poorer management of illness. We see the devastating results of this through increased rates of ill health, hospitalisation and premature death.”
“Providing services to these towns is difficult – ensuring sustainability of services is even more difficult. But health services are a necessity and more effort needs to be given to how best to ensure that all Australians can access the health services they require at the time they need them. It is time for our political leadership to take notice of remote Australians and consider more flexible models of providing healthcare in these areas to meet local needs”, she said.
The National Rural Health Alliance encourages all voters to find out what the major parties and local candidates will do to improve access to health services in remote Australia and cast their vote accordingly.
Kim Webber, CEO 0401 006 170