Tamworth, NSW, is the venue for a special meeting on Monday 14 October to launch a joint NRHA/Australian Council of Social Service report on poverty in rural and remote areas.
It is time to face the facts on the existence of poverty in rural and remote areas and the toxic impact on people living there. In 2010, and allowing for the costs of housing, the level of poverty in Australia was slightly higher in rural areas than in the capital cities. An estimated 2.26 million people in Australia - 12.8 per cent of the population – were found to be living in households below the poverty line. This included 575,000 children - 17.3 per cent of all children.
People living in poverty not only have low levels of income; they also miss out on opportunities and resources that most take for granted, such as adequate health and dental care, education, employment opportunities, food and recreation. The prevalence of deprivation is higher in large country towns and other rural areas than in the inner city.
The joint report on rural poverty shows there is a gradient from major cities to remote areas for a number of factors which contribute to poor health and wellbeing. These factors include the proportion of low income families with children; the proportion living on single parent payments; the proportion living on disability support pensions; the proportion who are long-term recipients of unemployment benefits; and the proportion in unskilled or semiskilled occupations.
Barnaby Joyce, Minister for Agriculture and Federal member for New England, has been invited to give the leading address at this event that is being held as part of Anti-Poverty Week 2013. Confirmed speakers include local GP Jenny May, representing the NRHA, Tessa Boyd-Caine, from ACOSS, and David Briggs, Chair of the New England Medicare Local.
Alleviating poverty is a critical part of what needs to be done to achieve better health for the people of rural and remote communities. To do this there needs to be work on at least six fronts. The six are education; health; housing; the nature of work, employment and income; access to and the cost of goods and services; and community connectivity.
Following the launch the report will be available on the Alliance’s website: ruralhealth.org.au
Gordon Gregory - Executive Director: 02 6285 4660