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Families on the fringe : mental health implications of the movement of young families to non-metropolitan areas
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by M Rawsthorne, Wendy Hillman, K Healy
Over the past three decades, thousands of young families have moved from large cities to non-metropolitan areas of Australia. This is one of the major demographic shifts underway in Australia and demands urgent policy attention. Despite the various impetuses towards relocation, little is known about how these families fare in their new environments. This paper draws on a three year study of the experiences of young families who move to regional, rural and remote areas conducted in two states using interviews with parents and service providers. The parent interviews suggest that relocation, regardless of the reason for migration, has the potential to adversely affect mental wellbeing (through loss of social connections and exclusion from their new community). This is even more so for those with pre-existing mental health problems due to their non-acceptance by the new community and inadequate access to support services. Service providers indicated that the migration of young families to rural and remote communities is placing additional demand on already stretched health and other services. The paper concludes with a discussion of potential strategies to lessen the negative impacts on the mental and social wellbeing of young families moving to non-metropolitan areas.