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Country bad for love life
Ian and Margret Schell with son Charlie. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian

Lack of access to support services and stress associated with rural life have been blamed for figures suggesting living in some parts of regional WA may be bad for your love life.

Australian Bureau of Statistics census figures show the percentage of people living in the Gascoyne, Wheatbelt and Mid West who are divorced or separated is higher than elsewhere in the State.

In Gascoyne, which takes in the shires of Carnarvon, Exmouth and Shark Bay, almost 14 per cent of residents were separated or divorced at the time of the census compared with 11.2 per cent in the greater Perth metropolitan area or 11.4 per cent across WA. Rates of marital breakdown in the Wheatbelt, South West and the Mid West were also higher than average at between 12 per cent and 13 per cent.

The regional mining hub of the Pilbara bucked the trend, with just 10.9 per cent of the population divorced or separated. However, the figures were probably skewed by the high number of fly-in, fly-out workers.

Relationships Australia's Jennifer Snell, who has overseen a regional drought counselling program for several years, said rural couples faced the same problems as city-dwelling counterparts.

"But then added to that are things that are particular to living in a remote location," she said. "People feel more isolated, so catching up with friends and having a chat, which might defuse the situation, often isn't possible or is more difficult than it might be in the city.

"In farming, home and work is often the same thing and couples work together and live together - so there's no escape from stresses that might be going on at work."

Ian Schell, who has lived in Bruce Rock with wife Margret and two-year-old son Charlie for just over a year, says the lack of social venues can have an effect on the relationship.

"In the city we used to do date night once a week or once a fortnight and we don't really have that option up here - we've exhausted the local cafes," he said.