Regional & remote communities

Australia can be broadly divided into the regional classifications of Major cities, Inner regional, Outer regional, Remote and Very remote areas. Older Australians are less likely than the general population to live in Major cities.

In 2016, two-thirds (66%) of older Australians lived in Major cities, compared with 72% of people aged under 65 [1].


People in regional and remote (including Very remote) communities tend to have poorer health outcomes, shown by higher death rates. The main contributors to these higher rates are coronary heart disease, other circulatory diseases, motor vehicle accidents and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (for example, emphysema) [3].

It is likely these contributors are related to a combination of differences in access to services, lifestyle risk factors and the regional/remote environment. For example, when compared with Major cities:

  • regional and remote areas have lower rates of general practitioner consultation and generally higher rates of hospital admission
  • people from regional and remote areas tend to be more likely to smoke and drink in harmful quantities
  • occupations in regional and remote area are more likely to be physically dangerous
  • driving in regional and remote areas is more likely to involve risk factors such as long distances, greater speed, isolation, and animals on roads [2].

Aged care

The majority of people aged 65 and over in permanent residential aged care were in Major cities (70%), followed by Inner Regional or Outer regional (30%) and Remote or Very remote areas (0.6%). There are fewer residential aged care places available in Remote and Very remote areas, with 38% of facilities in Remote areas and 75% in Very remote areas having fewer than 20 places [3].


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2016. Census, unpublished data generated using ABS TableBuilder. Canberra: ABS.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2013. Rural health: impact of rurality on health status. Canberra: AIHW.
  3. AIHW 2018. National Aged Care Data Clearinghouse: AIHW analysis of unpublished data.