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Bishops commit to fixing Australia's rural-urban divide

The trend towards centralising and privatising services for Australians in rural areas hurts the entire Australian community, according to Bishop William MOrris, Acting Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council.

In a press release for Wednesday's Toowoomba launch of the 2001 Social Justice Statement - A Just & Peaceful Land: Rural and Regional Australia in 2001 - he called for a fairer distribution of economic and social infrastructure to give rural and regional Australia what most people take for granted.

He said: "There is no doubt that the bush is still hurting as the fabric of these regional and rural communities in Australia, continues to take the strain of modern social practice."

"The Statement questions the centralisation and privatisation of services, and the economic practices which mean the closure of businesses and social services which have so many flow-on effects for the community," he said. "The Church too has been struggling with the challenge of allocating its resources of personnel and funds so that people in regional and rural Australia have a fair share."

The Statement spells out the issues for the Church and gives examples of how various dioceses have tried to address them.

Bishop Morris said the Bishops are committed to the common good of all Australians which means that problems in rural and regional Australia concern us all, no matter where we live.

The document will be available on the Bishops' Conference website on Wednesday.