In the context of a discussion of globalisation this paper examines developments in social policy aimed at building civil society and enhancing social capital. It notes that policy driven by a desire for minimal government intervention and market dominance has resulted in a clear disadvantage in rural Australia and growing inequities between urban and rural communities. Clearly poverty has a postcode and overwhelmingly the postcodes are rural. At the same time the demography of 'rural' Australia is changing as the inland empties and the coastal regions experience population overload with its accompanying environmental problems. This paper discusses the need for more effective targeted involvement of the state in rural policy development if we are to preserve quality of life, address inequities and overcome the divide between city and country. There is a strong role for social work in forging rural community development. However, the profession has to be much more politically astute in its dealings with governments and community groups if it is to carve out a central role. Strategies are discussed to develop such a role.