The University of Canberra’s 2015 Regional Wellbeing Survey found that most people living in rural and regional areas are satisfied with their lives. They rate the local landscape, liveability, social connections and friendliness of their communities highly. Almost three quarters of them would recommend their community to others (except in Queensland, where this figure slips to less than two out of three).
It’s a different story when it comes to services and infrastructure. Poor internet and mobile phone access are sore points. Only 37 per cent of rural and regional Australians were happy with their internet speeds, and just over half felt they had good mobile phone coverage.
The health of regional economies is also causing concern, particularly in Queensland, Western Australia and among dryland farmers. More than three quarters (77 per cent) of regional Australians report a lack of local employment opportunities, 56 per cent feel their community is not financially well off, and more than half (51 per cent) feel local businesses are doing poorly in their region. And only 31 per cent see things getting better any time soon.
The survey is Australia’s largest into the wellbeing of people living in rural and regional communities – with more than 13,300 participants last year. It shows that university research keeps Australia clever, providing vital information to improve the lives of Australians right across this vast continent.