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2TM Regional News

Regional healthcare: where is it at?

“This November, we take the opportunity to highlight the myriad of issues faced by rural and remote communities in Australia when trying to access health care, aiming to draw the attention of health sector stakeholders to work towards tangible and sustainable solutions,” said Susi Tegen, Chief Executive of the National Rural Health Alliance.

November is National Rural Health Month and is a time to highlight the inequities that rural, regional, and remote Australians face when trying to access the same health care as their metro counterparts.

Those living in regional and rural areas experience a range of stressors unique to living outside major cities including the devastation of natural disasters.

They also have the triple disadvantage of poorer health, larger distances to travel, and less access to health and medical care providers.

However, there are positives happening in the space of rural health.

In October, NSW Health Minister Ryan Park announced a parliamentary committee has been established to advise the government on where there are gaps, challenges, and improvements that need to be made.

He said this group is now working on implementing the 44 recommendations of the landmark inquiry into regional and rural health care services that concluded in 2022.

Initially, it will focus on three areas that are critical to regional, remote, and rural NSW: workforce, Aboriginal health care, and ensuring the recommendations are being activated by the government.

“The conversations about health and health access are global topics right now, and when we compare them, Australia’s health system is actually very strong and vibrant.

This does not mean we don’t have issues, but it does mean we should be thankful for what we have,” said Richard Colbran, Chief Executive of NSW Rural Doctors Network.

Mr Colbran is confident that Australia does have people who want to work rurally.

“We try very hard to show people that following a rural pathway is very compelling and that it is often seen as a great way to practice the true meaning of their profession.

“We have conversations happening that are acknowledging the efforts of our healthcare workers, showing them the support and recognition they deserve after recent challenging years.

“We also have strategies in place to help attract more people to the regions,” said Mr Colbran.

But rural healthcare must also include appropriate and culturally responsive engagement with Aboriginal communities.

“One of the things we know globally is the impacts of colonisation, and health disparity is very real in comparison with Australian data,” told Mr Colbran.

“I am very pleased and thankful the minister has really called this out.”


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