Tackling poverty key to healthy rural communities

14 October 2019

The National Rural Health Alliance, the peak body for rural and remote health in Australia, welcomed the beginning of Anti-Poverty Week, which highlights the need to reduce poverty to improve health and wellbeing in rural Australia.

“The Alliance’s vision is for healthy and sustainable rural, regional and remote communities and we believe that tackling poverty is a vital part of this,” said National Rural Health Alliance CEO Gabrielle O’Kane.

“We know that people living in rural and remote Australia experience higher rates of poverty than those who live in metropolitan areas. We also know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also disproportionately affected by poverty.”

According to analysis undertaken by ACOSS, there are higher proportions of people in rural areas receiving Newstart allowance compared to the proportion of people in cities.

“But Newstart is simply not enough to cover the essentials. People in rural areas struggle to pay for food, their rent, child care and car costs, like fuel and insurance,” Dr O’Kane said
“This is why the Alliance supports ACOSS’s Raise the Rate campaign that calls for an increase to Newstart and related payments.

“The evidence is clear that lifting Newstart by $75 a week would go at least some way towards lifting people out of poverty, especially in rural Australia.

“And not only would raising Newstart help lift people out of poverty, but it would boost the economies of these rural areas”.

The reasons for poorer health outcomes in rural Australia are directly related to the social and economic conditions in which people live out their daily lives.

“The National Rural Health Alliance supports structural policies that aim to reduce economic inequality for people in the bush,” Dr O’Kane said.

“By reducing poverty, we know we can go some way to improving health outcomes for people living in rural Australia.”

Anti-Poverty Week runs from 13 October to 19 October. For more information visit https://antipovertyweek.org.au/

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