Coping during COVID report to benefit rural communities

Rural communities are benefiting from a report prepared by La Trobe University researchers, which details effective health promotion strategies organisations should adopt to help people cope during COVID-19.

West Wimmera Health Services (WWHS) and the La Trobe Rural Health School partnered in the development of a survey, designed to find out how people were getting news, staying connected and coping during COVID.

La Trobe University researchers are analysing responses from nearly 600 rural-dwelling Victorians. Initial findings have informed the Coping During COVID: Rural perspectives from the Wimmera and Southern Mallee report.

The report provides high level analysis of the survey data and health promotion advice that will be relevant for many rural community services and organisations.

Ritchie Dodds, CEO of West Wimmera Health Service, welcomed the report.

“COVID changed our community life overnight, and those changes will influence our region for the foreseeable future. It is exciting to have the expertise of our academic partner, La Trobe University, to help to understand what is happening here in rural Victoria.”

Dr Sean MacDermott, Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Social Policy, leads the La Trobe University team that prepared this report. Work on the data set continues.

“The information gained from the survey is a unique and valuable snapshot of the rural experience of COVID isolation. We have identified several research questions that will be pursued.  This will add greatly to the evidence base for response and recovery in COVID, or indeed, other disruptive events such as drought, fire or floods,” said Dr MacDermott.

The report is accessible from the West Wimmera Health Services website here.