The good, the bad and the ugly of RRR isolation.

People in the regions have a unique set of challenges but in nearly all instances, most of them stem from ‘isolation’.

Isolation is fluid, its irreversible, and while it continually challenges lifestyle for regional people, it should be noted that it is also enriching and uniquely rewarding. Isolation allows people to live a life that is removed from large populations, simplified and community engagement is focal and conversely expected. Additionally, it offers wide open spaces, natural landscapes as far as the eye can see and connections to the land and generating an income from it.

On the flip side, isolation can be tedious but furthermore, its multifaceted. Such as, expectations that some services are not available in the regions resulting in a lack of awareness of what is available. Or accepting the conflicting reality that one’s potential and skill would not be reached because of geography. And, lastly, a small employment market that inadvertently stabilises an economic dependence on a male partner who finds it much easier to secure work in the regions where masculine industries dominate.

When speaking with women earlier this year we found that they – expect less, therefore ask for less and as a result, settle for less with little improvement or satisfaction.

Concerningly, the impact of isolation can run much deeper and not only for women but for entire RRR communities. For instance, people living in rural areas experience higher rates of injury, diabetes, coronary heart disease, alcohol and tobacco consumption, and suicide.

When communities are under pressure from agriculture disruptions, such as dry season, drought or biosecurity scares the social and economic elements of a community can alter. Shopping habits may change impacting local economies, children skip school to help-out on the farm affecting education outcomes, women source additional incomes taking them away from the farming business and lastly confidence can erode decreasing health and wellbeing of communities.

On a far more optimistic note, isolation can empower, harness creativity and drive innovation.  We found regional people to be incredibly resourceful and imaginative by drawing on their environment and thinking innovatively. Isolation can propel innovation and build niche businesses in the regions.

You only have to look at the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award to see some of the amazing projects that have come from RRR women over the years.

Recent business successes in the south-west of WA have seen more than $700,000 invested by state government into the beverage and fishing industries.

Isolation is not all bad, it can be awesome, but knowing that isolation can have deep social impacts we encourage you to reach out to your RRR friends and family regularly to check that they’re going ok.

Read the full Regional Women’s Voices Report.

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