As Anti-Poverty Week begins, the NRHA calls on the Prime Minister not to forget that rural and remote areas need 'new jobs' just as much as the major cities.
Gordon Gregory, NRHA CEO, says the people of rural areas will support the emphasis on science, innovation and new technology as the bases of Australia's future prosperity.
"They will also understand a renewed policy focus on cities and urban infrastructure," he said. "But not at the expense of prosperity and wellbeing in rural and remote areas."
People in living and working in non-metropolitan areas already have lower average incomes. And the slowdown in new development in the minerals sector impacts directly on employment and incomes in mining towns and regions.
The NRHA has today published a fact sheet on poverty in rural Australia, available at www.ruralhealth.org.au/factsheets
"Anti-Poverty Week is a chance for us all to consider the relative status of poverty and deprivation in country and city areas," Mr Gregory said. "Nearly 14 per cent of Australians live below the poverty line and in the majority of States it's higher in rural areas."
Particularly vulnerable are sole parents, the unemployed, families relying on social security, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people living with a disability. "In rural areas there is a higher proportion in all of these groups," Mr Gregory said.
Low income is associated with health risk behaviours and poorer health. So it is a serious matter that wage and salary earners outside the cities already earn less than their cousins in the cities.
Among other things, this means that people in rural areas are more often unable to see a doctor or fill a prescription simply because of cost.
The NRHA believes a more holistic approach to tackling poverty and wellbeing is possible - one with closer collaboration between agencies dealing with health, education, disability care, aged care, employment, housing and transport. Any such activity would be underpinned by increased emphasis by governments on new jobs and a 'clever community'.
Visit the Anti-Poverty Week website (www.antipovertyweek.org.au) to be involved
Gordon Gregory (Chief Executive)
02 6285 4660
Geri Malone (Chairperson)
0409 899 050