A socially inclusive rural community is one where all people, regardless of diversity, are able to feel welcome in their communities and to fully participate in all aspects of rural community life.
Rural communities disproportionately experience barriers to social inclusion including poorer access to housing, transport and support services. Their residents generally have lower incomes and higher unemployment (Shucksmith, 2003). The smaller size of rural populations and their geographical isolation are physical characteristics that differentiate rural communities from their urban counterparts. These characteristics interact to impact upon the privacy, distribution of power and acceptance of diversity within communities, ultimately impacting on social inclusion and cohesion (Marchant, 2013).
There is evidence that the Loddon Mallee Region, particularly the most disadvantaged localities, suffer from many of the factors that contribute to and are consequences of social exclusion.
Compared to Victoria (2010-2011) Central Goldfields Shire and Mount Alexander Shire had significantly:
- lower median household gross weekly income than the regional Victorian and Victorian average.
- lower labour force participation rate.
- higher proportion of the population aged over 64.
- less youth that are fully engaged in either employment or training.
Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), which ranks areas in Australia according to relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage, ranks Central Goldfields as Victoria’s most disadvantaged LGA.
Central Victorian Primary Care Partnership works with local and regional agencies to ensure a social inclusion lens is applied to projects, programs and planning, and to collectively pursue our vision that we live and work in communities that are inclusive, resilient and healthy. This includes using the principles of participation and co-design to achieve meaningful involvement in decision making about health and wellbeing from all sectors of our population.
My Home Network (Mount Alexander Shire)
The My Home network was formed late 2019 after a forum, bringing community members, lived experience of housing crisis, and various housing, community and government organisations together, was held in response to increased community concerns regarding the lack of affordable, secure, safe, sustainable housing for everyone in our Shire. Update available here.
Digital Connection Project for Seniors
A couple of short case studies on this project are available for Macedon Ranges Shire and Central Goldfields Shire with a full list of recommendations listed in the extended case study (available upon request). The main recommendation coming out of this project is the inclusion of digital literacy as a social determinant of health within intake and assessment forms of services working with seniors.
Socially inclusive organisations and businesses
Campaspe Primary Care Partnership website has a selection of fact sheets that are designed to enable you and your organisation/business to gain a greater understanding of the issues people with disabilities and people from various diverse backgrounds may experience when using your service. These fact sheets provide some simple ways to make your organisation/business more accessible and welcoming for everyone.
Macedon Ranges Shire developed resources to reduce social isolation and loneliness by increasing their participation in community groups and clubs. The report and links to the resources are now available.