FAIR GO: Why regional babies have shorter life expectancy
THIS is a tale of two babies.
They were born 1080km apart, but statistics suggest their prospects are worlds apart.
Data shows Elijah Castley is at risk of dying 4.6 years earlier than Sophia Milosevic (pictured, far right, with her mum Kate).
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, a seat long held by former prime minister John Howard.
Elijah was born in Gympie, 180km from Brisbane and 1370km from Canberra.
A special Gympie Times investigation reveals how regional Australia has been let down, with health, education and infrastructure funding failing to help those who need it most.
In Gympie, the life expectancy for a baby born in 2014 is 80.7 compared to 85.3 where three-month-old Sophia lives in the Sydney suburb of Ryde.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures reveal the median age of death for locals is 78 compared to 84 in the Ryde council area.
The figures shocked Elijah's mum, Chanelle Edwards.
"It's ridiculous," she said this week.
"I believe all children should have the same entitlements no matter where they are born and raised.
"This is Australia and all the children should have equal opportunities in life."
Meanwhile, Ms Milosevic said there was no better place to raise a child than Ryde.
"It is a Liberal seat so it seems to do very well for itself," she said.
"There are constantly things happening, new playgrounds and projects with new funding.
"It's brought a different demographic of people and the area has become quite affluent."
Public health policy expert Dr Rob Moodie said Gympie'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 more top quality health services.
The University of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health lecturer said rates of smoking and drinking in low socio-economic communities also added to the problem.
"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.
"Your risks of chronic diseases from smoking will be greater; the risk from dying from alcohol-related diseases will be greater."
Ms Milosevic said some people were moving to Ryde to enrol their children in public schools in the area.
"You hear about regional areas in trouble all the time and one big thing I think is education and people just don't seem to have the same opportunities," she said.
"And other mothers have praised the public health here, too.
"It would be awesome if that sort of opportunity and lifestyle was available everywhere, especially in regional areas where things seem to be tough."