Tackling regional and rural disadvantage

Differences between rural and metropolitan communities have long been seen as one of the great social cleavages in Australia.
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About a third of the population live in regional, rural or remote parts of the country, but often with fewer services and educational opportunities, poorer health outcomes and lower incomes.

Building resilience and liveability in these regional, rural and remote areas is the focus of Resilient Regions Week at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) from September 30.

USQ Institute for Resilient Regions (IRR) Executive Director Professor Geoff Cockfield said there was no single answer to boosting resilience.

“Non-metro Australians face degrees of disadvantage, be it related to services, life opportunities and access to cultural and social capital,” Professor Cockfield said.

“These are individual concerns compounded by geographical disadvantage, but are often lumped together as a 'the rural development problem' which is too big, too complex and too confusing for governments and regional development practitioners.”

IRR is a network of multi-disciplinary research groups in social sciences, humanities, health sciences, business, law, economics and community development. This wide scope will be reflected in the topics at Resilient Regions Week: Heritage and Culture (September 30), Health and Wellbeing (October 1) and Rural Economies (October 2 and 3).

Representatives from local government, business and community are expected to attend from across Queensland, including Agricultural Industry Development Minister Mark Furner.

Professor Cockfield said Resilient Regions Week allowed IRR to explore opportunities to develop and promote regional Australia as a great place to work and live.

“What do we want for our non-metro regions? We know many people are heading into cities. How do we attract them back, at least for a period of time? Through research and partnerships with practitioners and policy-makers we have the opportunity to shape the future of regional Australia and especially regional Queensland.

“Our goal is to deliver research excellence that enables regional communities to be adaptive, prosperous, healthy, active and connected.”

man walks towards camera with water in the background
USQ Institute for Resilient Regions (IRR) Executive Director Professor Geoff Cockfield said there was no single answer to boosting resilience.