Regional diversity is a hot topic in Australia’s policy agenda. There is growing evidence that the economic and social circumstances of Australians vary significantly by region. As a result of this disparity, policies may increasingly need to target particular regions.
Income inequality in Australia has been analysed widely by social researchers, but this analysis has generally focused on the national picture (Harding 1997). However, there has been increasing interest in income inequality and social disadvantage across neighbour-hoods and regions (Gregory and Hunter 1995; Vinson 1999).
Cuts in government, banking and telecommunication services, coupled with low commodity prices and high unemployment rates, have prompted an outcry from those living in regional Australia about the growing divide between the cities and the bush. There has also been a shift in the political landscape following the Victorian State election in 1999. The Prime Minister’s tour of regional Australia in 2000 and increased funding to regional Australia in recent budgets illustrate the growing government interest in regional issues.