Sustainability Minister Tony Burke said the report provided the evidence base the government needed to help focus on the wellbeing of future generations around the nation.
Sustainability Minister Tony Burke said the report provided the evidence base the government needed to help focus on the wellbeing of future generations around the nation.

Report confirms the big issues for regional communities

SKILLS shortages, fly-in fly-out mining practices, health and population change represent the biggest challenges facing regional Australia, a major Federal Government report confirmed on Thursday.

While many people living outside the big cities may agree with the major findings, the first Sustainable Australia Report has helped quantify the big issues for regional communities.

Sustainability Minister Tony Burke said the report provided the evidence base the government needed to help focus on the wellbeing of future generations around the nation.

"If we are to adapt to change and build sustainable communities, we need to integrate environmental, social and economic factors to provide current and future generations with the opportunity to lead healthy and fulfilling lives," he said.

The report confirmed people in regional areas were more likely to score lower on education and health outcomes than city dwellers, and while mining, agriculture and tourism were vital to regional economies, each had its own specific challenges.

It found that while coastal areas and satellite cities to the capitals were experiencing unprecedented growth, more regional areas were suffering under the weight of continued migration to the big cities.

More remote areas, especially in western New South Wales, were experiencing population declines between 17% and 20% a year, while mining areas were facing infrastructure challenges that came with the still growing industries.

Both coastal and inland regions were experiencing skills shortages across most industries, with mining and agriculture under the most pressure to find skilled workers willing to move to rural areas.

Health and education were two key social areas where most regions performed poorly compared with their city cousins.

Some of the chief health risk factors were higher smoking and obesity rates and limited access to health care services.

Young Australians studying in capital cities were more likely to meet national standards than those in regional areas - a trend which increased with remoteness.

Mr Burke said he wanted the community to get involved in the conversation begun by the first Sustainability Australia Report.

For more information, go to: www.environment.gov.au/sustainability/measuring

 

Major regional findings:

  • Skills shortages in mining, agriculture and tourism
  • Life expectancy lower in regional areas - rising with remoteness
  • Lower educational achievement - rising with remoteness
  • Infrastructure in coastal areas struggling with population growth
  • Population decline causing skills ans services shortages in inland regions


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