Tale of two babies
THIS is a tale of two babies.
They were born 521km apart, but statistics suggest their prospects are worlds apart.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows Emmett Parker is at risk of dying 4.9 years earlier than Sophia Milosevic, who lives with her family in the Sydney suburb of Ryde.
For both children their distance from capital cities makes all the difference.
Sophia's home is in the Federal seat of Bennelong in the north of Sydney. Emmett was born in Coffs Harbour, 806km from Canberra.
A Coffs Coast Advocate investigation reveals how regional Australia has been let down, with health, education and infrastructure funding failing to help those who need it most.
The figures concerned Emmett 's mother, Gisela - who loves raising her family and working as a teacher on the Coffs Coast.
Living in Korora, a stones throw from the beach, Mrs Parker said Coffs Harbour provides a great, affordable lifestyle for raising her children Emmett, 7 months, and Esme, 3.
"If we were to live anywhere else, such as Sydney or Brisbane, or even for example - Los Angeles, where my family is from, we wouldn't be able to afford this great lifestyle," Mrs Parker said.
During both her pregnancies, Mrs Parker said she had "a very positive experience" at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus.
"It's really important to feel like you're in control of your labour and birth, and that you're being informed and cared for, and I felt like I had that with the midwives at the hospital here," she said.
Meanwhile, Sophia's mother Kate Milosevic said there was no better place to raise a child than Ryde.
"There are constantly things happening, new playgrounds and projects with new funding."
Public health policy expert Dr Rob Moodie said Coffs Harbour's life expectancy rates and median age of death would not improve until the region matched its metropolitan cousins on income, education, employment and access to top quality health services.
"One of the biggest drivers around life expectancy is not whether you get treatment, it's around how wealthy you are, what your education level is and what your income levels are," Dr Moodie said.
Mrs Parker hopes our governments can provide equal opportunities across regional Australia.
"We just have to look out for our fellow community members and make sure everyone is getting fair access."