Remoteness Index of Australia

October 31, 2013

I am one of a small number that gets excited by a good map (the former town planner/geographer in me), but there is a great one of geographic remoteness in Australia as part of this document about families in rural and remote Australia, published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies:

Remoteness map of Australia

As I discussed in my recent post on rural and remote poverty, the key thing to remember is that almost every single indicator of well-being – educational attainment, health outcomes, families in crisis, etc (even telecommunications access) – declines as you move “outwards” in Australia from major cities to inner regional to outer regional to remote to very remote. This map shows it very well (although it does not include state boundaries on it, which would be helpful), and can be very helpful in determining which regions have compounded problems.

Advertisements

Rural Poverty in Australia

October 29, 2013

When you sit (as I often do) in one of Sydney’s wealthier suburbs, it’s hard to imagine the level of disadvantage the rural and remote Australians experience.  Fortunately, there are those that keep trying to remind us.

One of the latest is the report entitled A Snapshot of Poverty in Rural and Regional Australia, released on 14 October 2013 and co-published by the National Rural Health Alliance and the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS).

Here’s a figure that helps put it all in perspective:  “18 of the 20 electorates in Australia with the lowest household incomes are outside the capital cities”.  That’s correct.  A full 90% of them.

Need more proof?  Have a look at the table below.  Looks of figures (all expressed in percentages).  Examine the patterns carefully:  in every instance, as you move from metropolitan (the major cities to “inner regional” to “outer regional” to “remote” to “very remote”, the indicators get worse.  In other words, proportionately there are 50% more low income families with kids in remote communities than major cities – and almost three times that number in very remote communities.  There are 50% more long-term unemployed in regional areas and more than double that in very remote.  Whereas 50% of families in capital cities have private hospital cover, only 20% in remote communities do.  Every figure gets worse across every indicator.

Indirect poverty indicators in Australia

(All figures in %)

Major cities

Inner Regional

Outer Regional

Remote

Very Remote

Low income families w/kids

8.8

10.7

11.1

12.9

23.1

Single parent  beneficiaries

4.6

6.9

6.8

6.2

6.5

Disability pensioners

4.6

7.0

6.9

5.6

5.2

Long term unemployed

2.3

3.3

3.4

3.7

5.5

Unskilled and semi skilled

14.6

19.6

21.4

22.8

30.4

Jobless families children <15 yrs

12.2

15.4

15.6

15.0

25.9

Private health insurance hosp

48.2

43.8

40.6

33.0

19.6

Source: PHIDU http://www.publichealth.gov.au/remoteness—australia/remoteness—australia-2012-incl.-2011-census-data.html

Do you need more convincing?  How about this one?  Education indicators.  The differences are even starker.  You read this one right when you realise that only 4.5% of school leavers are in higher education in remote areas, only 12.1 in remote, 16.2 in outer regional and 20.4 in inner regional – but 35.5 in the major cities.  And yes, there are many more developmentally vulnerable children outside the major cities than in them.

Education indicators in Australia

(All figures in %)

Major cities

Inner Regional

Outer Regional

Remote

Very Remote

Young kids devt vulnerable

11.0

12.4

13.8

16.9

32.2

School leave in higher educ

35.5

20.4

16.2

12.1

4.5

16 year olds in high school

81.3

76.8

73.9

65.4

51.6


A triumph for remote Indigenous employment

November 15, 2011

One of the most astonishing places to visit in Australia is Uluru, the red rock mountain that arises from the Central Australian desert.  Located in what is close to the true geographic centre of the Australian continent some four hours drive from Alice Springs, Uluru has a strong spiritual attraction and a powerful physical presence that casts a magic over most visitors.

If you want to visit Uluru (previously called by its Anglo name, “Ayers Rock”), there is basically only one place to stay:  the Ayers Rock Resort, which has a range of different accommodation options – from camping up through five star luxury.

I have stayed at Ayers Rock Resort twice, and each time was vaguely aware of the Aboriginal communities which live virtually in the shadow of “the rock”.  I looked in vain for Indigenous employees at the Resort, however:  instead what I found was a great mixture of Australians, New Zealanders, Europeans … and just about everyone else.  Just no Indigenous empoyees, despite the crushing poverty and unemployment rates in nearby remote Indigenous communities – and despite the fact that the park in which Uluru sits is formally owned by the local Indigenous communities.  On my last trip there we only met one Indigenous person – the elder on a special Indigenous cultural tour we had booked.  For many (most?) people, it is possible to spend days in the area and not come across one Indigenous person.

That’s all about to change, according to news reports and a recent Government funding announcement.  With the Ayers Rock Resort now owned by the regional Indigenous Land Council (purchased in June of this year) and is now managed by its wholly owned Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia group, a major Indigenous employment and training program is about to commence, with substantial Government funding.  There are now plans to increase Indigenous employment with an initial 100 Indigenous trainees, and building the Resort up to 50% Indigenous staff.  That will be quite a challenge, but eminently worthy – and even if only partially successful, has the potential to become a world-leader in Indigenous employment, making an Uluru visit even more special.