Submission for Inquiry into Health Outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional and remote New South Wales
Royal Far West welcomes this Inquiry into reporting on health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in regional, rural and remote New South Wales.
We have included some recommendations and general comments that go to the mission of RFW – to strengthen the health and well-being of children and young people living in rural and remote communities across NSW and nationally.
Research shows that children living in rural and remote NSW have far greater likelihood of developmental vulnerabilities or delays compared to their city counterparts – which are in turn linked with poor educational outcomes, disability, chronic mental health problems and a higher risk of unemployment, personal relationship difficulties, contact with the criminal justice system and homelessness.
The physical, emotional and social development attained in childhood sets a trajectory for long term outcomes in health, education and well-being. Reducing childhood developmental vulnerability and improving developmental health outcomes in rural NSW will help increase educational outcomes and build stronger regions and a stronger Nation, well into the future.
Every child in NSW has the right to access quality health and developmental services. Where you live should not be a barrier to access services or a cause for disadvantage.
But the reality is that children living in rural and remote NSW are more likely to start school developmentally vulnerable compared to children growing up in cities like Sydney, Newcastle or Wollongong.
The most recent 2018 Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data shows children living in very remote areas of Australia are more than twice as likely as those living in major cities to be developmentally vulnerable on one or more domains. They are also three times more likely to be developmentally vulnerable on two or more domains. Geography should not be a barrier to health services for children, but that remains the case in NSW, more than one-third of children in rural and remote areas of NSW unable to access the health services they need.