Rural areas often do not have the same quality of resources – especially health resources – available to urban areas. Among indigenous groups such as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations of Australia, this is a particularly pressing problem. According to the Australian Government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, as of 2001 an estimated 2.4 percent of Australia’s population identified as being of “Aboriginal origin,” “Torres Strait Islander origin,” or both. Around 25 percent of the indigenous Australian population – compared to two percent of the non-indigenous population – lived in areas classified as “remote” or “very remote.” As in other nations, non-urban areas often are not surveyed regularly, so gaps in health and welfare information are not sufficiently monitored or addressed.
The Australian Medical Association reports that representatives from the Indigenous Dentists’ Association have called for measures to improve oral health among indigenous groups such as the fluoridation of community water supplies. Per Medical News Today, the Dietitians Association of Australia indicates that due to the lower economic means of many people living in remote areas, high-quality nutritious food is not always available. Further, items such as sodas, sweets, and fried food are more available in rural areas and are lower-cost. Since one in every three Aboriginal people over the age of 15 worries about going without food, making healthy food options more available and affordable is a major concern to improving the overall health of the population.
Areas like the Northern Territory, where around 29 percent of the population are indigenous, also face a shortage of medical professionals to treat the conditions exacerbated by poor-quality food and lack of appropriate medical and dental care. Telemedicine programs such as iConsult provide opportunities to improve medical care in these areas and treat or lessen the severity of many conditions.