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The invisible children: the state of country children's health and development in Australia

Rural health Child health Regional disparities Australia

For 94 years, Royal Far West has been serving country children and communities. Whilst our approach has changed and evolved over this time to respond to the most pressing needs of country communities, we have remained relentlessly focused on the health and wellbeing of country children and their families.

In early 2017, in response to concerns about the growing vulnerability of country children, RFW commissioned a review of the state of children’s developmental health in rural and remote Australia from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s Centre for Community Child Health. Their report shines a light on “The Invisible Children” – the complexity and challenges facing country children and families, the gaps in and fragmentation of services, the growing disparities in outcomes between children in urban and rural and remote areas, and the critical role that the social determinants of health play in this picture. It reinforces the gaps that RFW sees through our work with country children and families, and highlights the need for united government leadership across health, education, disability and social services to reduce developmental vulnerability. It also shows large gaps in data and evidence, revealing the difficulty in being able to gain a true picture of the services available in local communities.

But there is hope - the report highlights a way forward, with strong cross-government strategy, improved information and telehealth providing significant and potentially transformative opportunities. However, this cannot be achieved by any one organisation. It requires many people and organisations to come together and raise their voices for country children, early intervention and prevention.

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