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Australians living in rural and remote areas tend to have shorter lives, higher levels of disease and injury and poorer access to and use of health services compared to people living in metropolitan areas. Poorer health outcomes in rural and remote areas may be due to a range of factors, including a level of disadvantage related to education and employment opportunities, income and access to health services. People living in rural and remote areas may also have more occupation-related and physical risk, such as farming or mining work and transport-related accidents. The proportion of adults engaging in behaviours associated with poorer health, such as tobacco smoking and alcohol misuse, are also higher in these areas.
Higher death rates and poorer health outcomes outside major cities, especially in remote areas, also reflect the higher proportion of the population in those areas who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander [1].

Despite poorer health outcomes for some, the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey found that Australians living in small towns (fewer than 1,000 people) and non-urban areas generally experienced higher levels of life satisfaction compared to those living in Major cities [2].


Bar chart shows regional & remote chronic disease rate (54%) vs Major cities rate (48%).

Higher rate

of chronic disease for people living in regional and remote areas: (54%) compared with those in Major cities (48%).


Bar chart shows remote & very remote areas have 1.3 x the death rate of major cities.

1.3 times

mortality rates for people living in Remote and very remote areas, compared to people living in Major cities.


Rural health dash3 land transport accidents

5.4 times

the rate of deaths due to land transport accidents in Remote and very remote areas compared to Major cities.


Rural health dash4 suicide

1.7 times

the rate of suicide in Remote and very remote areas compared to Major cities.


1 in 5 people smoke

1 in 5

people living in Outer regional and remote areas smoke daily (21%).


2 in 3 people are overweight

More than 2 in 3

people living in Outer regional and remote areas are overweight or obese (69%).


3 in 4 people get insufficient exercise

Almost 3 in 4

people living in Outer regional and remote areas did not get enough exercise (72%).


Further Information

AIHW 2016. Australia’s Health 2016: 5.11 Rural and remote health

References

  1. AIHW 2015. The health and welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: 2015. Cat. no. IHW 147. Canberra: AIHW.
  2. Wilkins R 2015. The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey: selected findings from waves 1 to 12. Melbourne: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.