This report deals with priorities for research into rural communities and rural social issues. The report is based on an extensive literature review, together with information derived from a survey of policy-making agencies and researchers, as well as discussion at a national workshop held in Canberra on 19 May 1999. Issues reviewed include: the range of large-scale economic adjustments that have affected life in rural Australia, particularly as these relate to agriculture, regional development, local government, demographic change, and the viability of small towns and rural communities; labour markets, employment and unemployment in country towns and rural communities; social wellbeing, and problems in measuring the impact of policies and socioeconomic changes on different segments of the population; integration of social, environmental and economic objectives in the quest for sustainable rural communities; issues of education and learning as they bear upon rural productivity, employment opportunities, personal development, and the resilience of rural communities; health-related issues, including health service delivery, the health needs of particular segments of the population, issues of safety at work and on the roads, and mental health; telecommunications, banking services, housing, transport and the consequences of a rapidly growing tourist industry; other possible priority areas for research, including Indigenous issues, women, youth, farm succession, disasters and risk management, and crime. The report makes a range of recommendations, giving priority to issues that meet each of the following criteria: the issue is itself one of major importance; there is a major gap in recent research in this field; and further research has the potential to inform policymaking, public discussion and/or social practice.

Publication Details


Publication place:
Barton, ACT