Rural AUS is more vulnerable to the impact of the GFC

12 January, 2010

Rural Australians are more likely to be negatively impacted by the global financial crisis than those in urban areas, according to a new report.

Research Australia has released its report on the economy and health: Australian Financial Crisis – Implications for Health and Research. The report was produced with the support of Bupa Australia and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

It reveals that with generally lower incomes and lower levels of education, rural Australia is more vulnerable to the impact of the global downturn. Higher rates of tobacco and alcohol use and of obesity also contribute to the relationship between the GFC and rural health.

Research and analysis discussed in the report suggests that the socio-economic effects of the GFC may increase the susceptibility of rural Australians to preventable illnesses.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for unemployment also show that overall rural and regional unemployment is slightly higher than for major urban areas. The negative impacts on health in rural communities may be increased as concentrated unemployment is felt alongside further deterioration in access to health and social services.

Research Australia CEO Rebecca James said while 10 years of severe drought had also had a large impact on rural and regional health, some industries and regions are feeling the dual impact of drought and falling commodity prices.

"A key question raised was not simply whether the recession will further increase the health divide between urban rural and remote Australia, but whether it will eliminate the significant gains made in rural health over the past decade," James said.

While researchers are beginning to better understand the impact of the GFC on different groups in the workforce, there is little evidence about the link with health.

Research Australia's report compiles thoughts from some of Australia's leading experts on health, the economy, government and society. It focuses on unemployment and its impact on health and the health system in a recession.

The report draws together and seeks to assess our understanding of how the current financial climate will affect Australia's health. It identifies gaps in our knowledge and many opportunities for improving the evidence base for policy.
Source: Research Australia