Rural Proofing Australia – We all count!
“One third of all Australians live in rural, remote and regional communities and one third of all Australian women live in regional communities. All communities matter,” says Dr Pat Hamilton, Vice President of the National Rural Women’s Coalition. Whether we live in a regional community or an urban community we all count.
The National Rural Women’s Coalition, in the lead up to the Federal Election is calling for greater consultation with rural, remote and regional communities and consideration of the needs and interests of rural people.
The 2013 National Rural Women’s Summit in February has called for the ‘rural proofing’ of all future government policies and programs, a practice already successfully employed in both the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
The National Rural Women’s Coalition is calling on policy makers across government to ensure that rural people are consulted and that the needs and interests of rural people, communities, primary industries and businesses are properly considered in the development and implementation of all policies.
Dr Hamilton says, “The current economic environment means consideration and consultation with rural, remote and regional communities will become more critical to future policy support and success.
Tough economic environment and tight budgetary constraints have resulted in significant cuts in government programs and services. It is imperative that government and policy makers ensure that successful services and programs are continued through consideration and proper consultation.
“Essential services are services all members of community, no matter where we live, have an expectation and a right to as a consequence of our contribution to the wealth of country. And regional communities certainly cut above their weight when it comes to generating wealth. 70 percent of our agrifood and fishing production comes from regional Australia and this nation is in the top ten contributors to world food supply and that’s not to mention our contributions in terms of the resource sector to the national economy.”
“But it currently costs us five times as much to access essential services as it does our city counterparts and that’s assuming we have the essential services to access.” “Rural Proofing will ensure that regional, rural and remote communities are consulted and that our needs are considered when drawing up and implementing new policies and programs.” Dr Hamilton said.
There is substantial research and evidence to suggest that when government properly consults and considers the needs of communities and that when communities take ownership of programs, the benefits and achievements of those programs are significantly higher.
The Coalition is advocating for:
- Rural proofing to be applied across all government departments, with a central rural proofing unit established within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
- Each government department produce an annual report outlining their approach to rural proofing and outcomes.
The National Rural Women’s Coalition is one of the few national women’s organisations that operates within rural, remote and regional communities and one of the most influential in representing the views of women within these communities.
Rural Proofing Check List
This Rural Proofing Checklist will help guide policy makers in the formulation of programs and policies that take into account the needs of regional, remote and rural communities:
- Confirm Policy Objectives:
What is the problem? How is the proposed policy going to fix the problem? What are the intended outcomes of the policy? What is the proposed method of delivery
- Identification of Policy Implications:
What are the positive and negative implications of the policy on rural, remote and regional communities? Will the policy have an impact on regional communities, their people and businesses access to infrastructure or services and the quality and cost of access?
- Seek Advice:
Have you sought advice on the impact of this policy from credible organisations within rural, remote and regional communities? How extensive has your consultation been?
- Assess Significance of the Implications:
Are the implications of this policy significantly different for rural, remote and regional communities as compared to urban communities? Can you quantify and qualify those implications and impacts? Are those impacts supported by evidence?
- Amend Policy:
Can you identify options that will support your policy objectives but maximise the positive implications for rural, remote and regional communities? Can you amend your policy and implementation plans to mitigate against the negative impacts on regional communities?
How will the policy be monitored in rural, remote and regional communities? Have you any regional specific indicators to monitor your policy implementation and mitigate against any negative impacts of regional communities?
What Rural Women Want
Rural Proofing is a process that requires policy-makers across all government departments to ensure that the needs and interests of rural people, communities and businesses are properly considered in the development and implementation of all policies and programmes.
Rural Proofing requires policy-makers to consider whether the policies they are developing will have any impacts on rural areas; it requires policy-makers to assess the significance of those impacts and where appropriate adjust the policy to ensure that the needs of those who live in rural areas are fairly addressed.
Rural Proofing recognises that rural communities do not necessarily require the same outcome or the provision of exactly the same level of service as their urban counterparts. Rather that policies should be sufficiently flexible to apply fairly in all areas and deliver quality services that meet all areas everyday needs.
“Communities Count Where Ever We Live”
- We are all part of a community no matter where we live, be it in the city or the country. My community, my family, my business is just as important as yours; all communities matter and are equally important.
- One third of all Australians live in regional communities. One third of all Australian women live in regional communities.
“Women are the glue that holds families and communities together”
- Rural women’s involvement and influence cuts across all dimensions of work and life in rural, remote and regional and communities.
- “Consideration and Consultation Costs Nothing but is Critical to Policy Success in Rural, Remote and Regional Communities”
- People in regional communities don’t want more than anyone else we just want a decent standard of living and access to the same essential services and we know what policies and programs are going to work best in the bush.