Access to palliative care outside of the major cities of Australia

This includes those living in regional areas and in very remote areas. Although a higher level of life satisfaction is reported for people living in rural areas, they often have limited access to care and poorer health outcomes compared to people living in urban areas.

Why palliative care matters

People in Australian rural areas are more likely to smoke daily (one in five) and to consume alcohol at high risk levels (one in five) than the non-rural population. Both activities are major risk factors for serious chronic conditions including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Although major cities and rural areas report a similar overall prevalence, the type of chronic conditions differ. People in remote and very remote areas have a higher rate of diabetes and kidney disease. People in inner regional areas have higher rates of heart, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. These chronic conditions are life-limiting or associated with life-limiting complications.

Common barriers and outcomes

Lack of health services such as primary care, pharmacies, and medical equipment services can lead to poor access to health care in rural areas. The barriers to care experienced by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population add further complexity, with most living in rural and remote regions.

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Utilising service directories, nursing posts and multipurpose services (MPS) may help improve access to services.
  • Some people may not feel comfortable accessing mental health support services in small communities due to stigma and fear of being judged by others. Accessing online mental health services may provide anonymity and give immediate access to support.

Learn more

To find out more about palliative care considerations for rural and remote Australians visit the ELDAC website and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Rural & remote health.

This information was drawn from the following resource:

Last updated 22 March 2023