Ideal for families

HAPPY HOME: Kerang life is easy for the Greenwood family, Matt, left, Demi, Blake, Chloe, and Jade, right, with Poppy, left, and Molly in the cubby house.

HAPPY HOME: Kerang life is easy for the Greenwood family, Matt, left, Demi, Blake, Chloe, and Jade, right, with Poppy, left, and Molly in the cubby house.

THE Shire of Gannawarra is home to some of the biggest families in Victoria.

Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicates that families have an average of 2.41 children per family, compared with an overall rate in Victoria of 1.73. 

Following closely behind Gannawarra is the Shire of Towong at 2.4, and our neighbours at Swan Hill and Loddon, at 2.34 and 2.31 respectively.

The regions with lower numbers of children per family were metropolitan areas, with the lowest being the City of Yarra at 1.13, the City of Stonnington at 1.08, and Melbourne City coming in last at 0.86.

Echuca Regional Health chief executive officer, Michael Delahunty said that it was difficult to say why rural areas were having larger families.

I think it's a very important and interesting statistic but I can't explain why there is such a difference between Gannawarra and somewhere like Melbourne," he said.

But Kerang residents Jade and Matt Greenwood, parents to five children aged two to 15, feel there is a very good reason for it.

"It's relaxed," said Mrs Greenwood.

"I think it's fabulous [here]. I love it," she said.

Mr Greenwood agreed, and added that part of the attraction was the safety of small town life. 

"It is not so busy, we feel happy with the kids riding their bikes to school," he said.

The family said that they know of plenty of other families with three children or more in the shire, and suspected that another reason for it might be affordability. 

"It's just the way it is in a smaller town," Mr Greenwood said.

"It's probably easier for you both to not [need to] work - in the city you'd both have to work," he said.

The number of babies being born within the Shire is showing a slight increase as well, despite the loss of birthing services at Kerang Hospital and Cohuna Hospital now the sole provider of obstetrics in the Shire. 

Mr Delahunty said that the expected number of births for 2018 at Cohuna District Hospital is between 50 and 60.

"Certainly at Cohuna hospital our birthing numbers are increasing this year when compared with the previous year - we did 42 births last financial year," he said.

The expected increase in numbers comes not long after Cohuna nearly lost its obstetrics services altogether after Echuca Regional Health said it was unsafe to allow the hospital's sole general practitioner obstetrician to continue practising alone.

But with the birth rate set to increase, and big families like the Greenwoods, it appears that the shire will continue to be attractive for family life.

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