Frontier Services National Director Rosemary Young will address the Australia’s Welfare 2011 Conference today calling for a rethink on how we provide services in remote Australia.

On average, people living in remote Australia have lower levels of education, earn a lower income and have greater health risks than those living in major cities.

They are more likely to smoke, drink too much and be overweight.

It is also much harder for them to access health and other services.

To turn around these figures and overcome the disadvantage faced by people living in remote parts of Australia will take courage and innovation, said Ms Young.

“We need to take a different starting point – like ‘whatever it takes’.”

“We must find a way to deliver the services that people need, as close to where they are living as we can manage.”

“The services we provide must be culturally sensitive, and they must be flexible and creative.”

Ms Young said when delivering services in remote Australia, we must avoid applying an urban construct or rigid risk framework.

“We have to suspend our, mostly, white middle class values and stop judging by our own standards.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up a substantial proportion of the population in rural and especially remote areas.

The health outcomes of Indigenous people are substantially poorer than those of other remote Australians.

“We need to recognise that we further disempower Aboriginal communities by applying urban standards,” said Ms Young.

“Our role is in training, empowering, resourcing and sustaining – making possible the provision of services into the future by confident, well-qualified, creative local people resourcing their own diverse communities into the future.”

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s national conference takes place today in Canberra and is timed with the launch of the institute’s Australia’s Welfare report detailing the latest information and statistics on all areas of community service.

Ms Young is one of 14 speakers to address the conference.

Frontier Services is the major provider of aged care, health and community services and pastoral support to the people in remote Australia.

More than 700 staff deliver approximately 120 services across 85 per cent of the continent.

Acknowledgement of Country

Frontier Services acknowledges the sovereign First Peoples on whose lands and waters we live, meet, and work.

We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and to all descendants of these Nations who have cared for this place since Creation.