Exploring Factors Affecting the Quality of Life for Australia’s Rural Population

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Australia is a vast land with a diverse environment and communities isolated by great distances. Its peoples have a diversity of culture, educational and economic circumstances, health needs, services, and social structure. Therefore the welfare issues experienced and the impact these have to lifestyle within Australia’s different populations would also differ in relation to these factors. This is certainly true for Rural Australia.

The biggest factor impacting Rural Australia has been the changes to the economic viability of primary production, one of the largest sources of income for Australia (Australian Government, 2008), affected by globalization, deregulation, privatisation and reduction/withdrawal of services, rising
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This tightening of expenditure continues on throughout the community. Business may cease sponsorship of the local football teams and individuals may cut back on patronage of local restaurants. Local charities and churches may notice a reduction in donations. It isn’t just the newly unemployed and the businesses that are affected. The general community begins to experience a fall in optimism for the future. ‘Economic downturn with the resulting sense of hopelessness and despair is a major factor contributing to the high rate of rural suicides. A lot of people who get put on the economic scrapheap through no fault of their own feel an enormous sense of worthlessness’ (Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission,1999, p.5).

The newly unemployed can find it hard to gain other employment in the region as most rural areas rely on one major industry for employment. Another problem is that many of the people employed in primary production areas are likely to have limited education or skills and so find changing careers difficult without assistance.

Education in Rural Australia is not necessarily valued or available in the same way it is in metropolitan areas. Many children need to travel great distances or live away from home to access secondary and particularly tertiary education. The high cost of living away from home, lack of effective financial support from

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