On average, Australians living in rural and remote areas have shorter lives, higher levels of disease and injury and poorer access to and use of health services, compared with people living in metropolitan areas. Poorer health outcomes in rural and remote areas may be due to multiple factors including lifestyle differences and a level of disadvantage related to education and employment opportunities, as well as access to health services.
Rural and remote Australia encompasses many diverse locations and communities and people living in these areas face unique challenges due to their geographic isolation. Those living outside metropolitan areas often have poorer health outcomes compared with those living in metropolitan areas. For example, data show that people living in rural and remote areas have higher rates of hospitalisations, mortality, injury and poorer access to, and use of, primary health care services, compared with those living in metropolitan areas.
Health inequalities in rural and remote areas may be due to factors, including:
- challenges in accessing health care or health professionals, such as specialists
- social determinants such as income, education and employment opportunities
- higher rates of risky behaviours such as tobacco smoking and alcohol use
- higher rates of occupational and physical risk, for example from farming or mining work and transport-related accidents.