1.8 million people live in small towns across Australia. This is approximately the population of Perth – and it is increasing.

Despite these numbers, our latest report Pillars of Communities: Service Delivery in Small Australian Towns shows that as a nation we need to do better at providing essential services to those living in small towns.

Many people in these areas across Australia continue to be disadvantaged in their ability to seek out basic essential service professionals, including dentists, pre-school teachers and psychologists. As part of the project, we have developed a Small Towns Report Card grading small town access to services over a 30-year period from A to F.

It is clear we need to rethink how we are delivering programs and spending government funding to improve access to professionals in small towns. The report suggests four ways to improve this situation. These include supporting community initiatives, role flexibility, delivery of online services and targeted funding.

This report raises a number of challenging questions for professions, communities and policy makers, and is the start of a greater conversation on small town services. Sign up to our e-newsletter or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to stay up to date with the latest information.