Regional health and education suffering amid small town professional shortages
As seen on ABC News, 14 December 2017
Allegations that it’s “nearly impossible” for some regional people to access essential health services has prompted calls for a rethink of government spending.
The think tank Regional Australia Institute (RAI) has today released a score card assessing services in towns with fewer than 5,000 people.
Chief executive Jack Archer said, without improvements, regional people worried for the survival of their towns.
“It means that either you don’t have access to service or you’ve got to travel a long way,” he said.
“We know we have really significant mental health issues in regional areas.
“Often people are forced to leave these places and move somewhere else if they’ve got a really significant health or education need, which really undermines the ability of these towns to be successful.”
The RAI’s Small Towns Report Card gave small town access to psychologists, pre-school teachers and dentists an F-rating.
“This is getting more important and we’re not having the success we need,” Mr Archer said.
He said the problem was not a lack of money, but how governments allocated it.
“[Governments] often target what seems to be the problem everywhere and you get a real patchy outcome,” he said.
“So one of the really important things we’re emphasising is have a bit of flexibility and back local communities and local solutions because they can see these issues in a different way to other people.”