Globalisation, rural restructuring and health service delivery in Australia: policy failure and the role of social work?
The impacts of globalisation and rural restructuring on health service delivery in rural Australia have been significant. In the present paper, it is argued that declining health service access represents a failure of policy. Rural communities across the world are in a state of flux, and Australia is no different: rural communities are ageing at faster rates than urban communities and young people are out-migrating in large numbers. During the past 5 years, rural Australia has also experienced a severe and widespread drought that has exacerbated rural poverty, and impacted on the health and well-being of rural Australians. Australian governments have responded to globalising forces by introducing neoliberal policy initiatives favouring market solutions and championing the need for self-reliance among citizens. The result for rural Australia has been a withdrawal of services at a time of increased need. This paper addresses the social work response to these changes.