Rural health

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 occupational and physical risk, for example from 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 Australians [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].


  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.