LEADING rural health organisations met in Canberra today with the new Minister for Rural Health Senator Bridget McKenzie to progress rural and regional health reform.
The Coalition Government recognises the unique aspects of rural health and established regular Rural Health Stakeholder Roundtable meetings to inform and develop national rural health policy.
Minister McKenzie said the Roundtable is a great opportunity for stakeholders to bring forward new and innovative approaches to improve health outcomes in the regions.
“The Roundtable is a valuable opportunity to hear directly from prominent rural stakeholders so we can better target strategies to address local health challenges,” Minister McKenzie said.
“Discussion today focused on rural health pathways, Indigenous workforce issues and examining health workforce data – all of which are fundamental to improving services for Australians living and working in the bush.
“Rural communities face specific health challenges and deserve localised and tailored programs to ensure they receive the same level of care as the rest of the country.
“Part of addressing this challenge is to support more health professionals to undertake the majority of their training and ultimately their careers in the bush.
“My focus is on expanding the opportunities for the next generation and training home grown Australian doctors and health practitioners who will deliver a future workforce in the regions. This will provide more services where they are needed most.
“Finding solutions to some of these barriers to better health isn’t always straightforward – these roundtables give are a forum where we can have robust discussions and come up with new and innovative approaches.”
Today was the first roundtable the new National Rural Health Commissioner Professor Paul Worley has attended since his appointment as Australia’s first National Rural Health Commissioner in November 2017.
“A champion of rural practice, Professor Worley’s priority is to develop a Rural Generalist Pathway to meet the complex and varied demands of doctors working in regional communities,” Minister McKenzie said.
“Part of Professor Worley’s work involves community consultation with Australians living in rural, remote and regional areas, as well as with the health sector, state governments and health authorities.
“Collaboration is vital to make comprehensive and practical changes to meet the needs of rural communities – we need to understand the barriers and challenges patients and health professionals experience to drive policy change.
“The Coalition Government is committed to improving local health services in rural communities and the appointment of the National Rural Health Commissioner is integral to achieving this outcome.”
The Rural Health Stakeholder Roundtable, which has 19 members, was established by the Coalition Government in 2015 to help develop rural health policy to improve patient outcomes.