This paper reports on a participatory research project conducted in two Victorian rural communities during 1998-1999: one Mallee town and one Western District town. The inspiration for this research came from the changes that have occurred in rural areas of Australia over the past two decades, together with the political neglect of the needs of electoral constituents in rural areas. The aim of the project was to gain an understanding of participants' perceptions of the cumulative impacts on the wellbeing of the community (represented by local families) resulting from wide-ranging policy changes, especially local government amalgamations, which have affected rural communities over recent years. Data were collected through the use of interviews with residents in the towns and also secondary sources. Findings of the study indicated that, in each community respectively, members have similar understandings of the changes that have occurred within local legislatures and industries, and in the provision of health care, public utilities, and education. It is argued that not only is the health and wellbeing of rural populations an issue, but the wellbeing of entire communities is under threat from the cumulative effects of the policy changes.