Drought damages wellbeing across the board

Friday, 19 June 2015

The final plenary session at the 13th Conference included a sneak preview of the 2014 regional Wellbeing Survey produced by the University of Canberra.  Jacki Schirmer spoke about Creating healthy rural places.

She pointed out that many complex relationships link the place a person lives and that person’s wellbeing. The place in which you live may influence your wellbeing via your social interactions with others in the community, the physical landscape, availability of key services, and overall liveability, to name just a few.

A community with poor leadership, few facilities, a lack of green space, poor housing, and high levels of social conflict is less likely to support wellbeing compared to a community with good, accessible facilities and services, attractive landscapes, and strong community cohesion.

The Regional Wellbeing Survey has now been formally launched. The findings are available for download from the University of Canberra website: http://www.canberra.edu.au/regional-wellbeing/2014

It is an annual survey of more than 10,000 rural and regional Australians that measures both the wellbeing of individuals, and how they experience the community in which they live.

The 2014 survey paints a concerning picture of the wellbeing of Australians in drought affected areas. Drought-stricken Central Queensland and the Orana region in the central west of New South Wales are some of the areas reporting the lowest levels of wellbeing nationwide.

In these drought-hit communities, most residents – not only farmers or mining workers – are reporting concerns about the future of their community, as well as lower levels of personal wellbeing. It is critical to understand that drought affects everyone in a rural community.

People under the age of 40 report a broader set of concerns in their day-to-day lives than those who are older. The survey identified a need to bridge the ‘age divide’ by investing in making rural communities places where young people want to stay or come back to after periods of time spent studying or working in cities.

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