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Programs reveal more life satisfaction in rural communities

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17 July 2015

The wellbeing benefits of life in small towns highlighted in Wednesday’s HILDA longitudinal study by the University of Melbourne is not news for Rural Councils Victoria (RCV).

RCV Chair, Cr Rob Gersch said RCV’s own programs had revealed similar results.

“Part of our platform is to encourage the relocation of people from the cities to country Victoria. Our work to encourage and support relocators has also highlighted the community and wellbeing benefits of life in the country.

“That’s why the role of RCV is so important. Our vision is to support and promote sustainable, liveable and prosperous rural communities that will continue to attract new residents,” Cr Gersch said.

RCV’s focus is on delivering practical solutions to issues shared by rural councils and communities.

In the recent past, RCV has worked on a program to engage young people in the future of their rural towns (Tomorrow Towns), explored the technology needs of rural businesses, with a particular focus on the creative industries, and facilitated university students’ work placements in country towns.

“The Tomorrow Towns toolkit will be launched on the Rural Councils Victoria website in coming weeks, as will our Technology Supporting Creative Industries and Rural Recruitment and Retention guidelines. The university student placement program has been operating for several years and shows graduates that they can have interesting careers in their chosen profession in country Victoria,” Cr Gersch said.

“When young people, creative businesses, graduates and other relocators settle in rural towns, they find the rural community spirit is one of the added bonuses of their new lives.”

The HILDA Report’s Health and Subjective Wellbeing section said that “towns smaller than 1,000 people and non-urban areas increase life satisfaction the most.”

It goes on to say that “characteristics of the local neighbourhood appear to be very important factors in life satisfaction, for both males and females. Neighbours helping out and doing things together have large positive effects on life satisfaction.”

Cr Gersch said many rural communities had community co-operation at their heart and in some communities this was seeing an expansion with the influx of people re-locating from the cities.

Rural Councils Victoria is supported with funding from the Victorian Government’s $3.3million Networked Rural Councils program.

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