NACCHO Aboriginal health : Coalition’s focus on improving Aboriginal health service access for regional Australians

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“Our vision is for a sustainable system that delivers quality health outcomes for all Australians, including indigenous Australians whose health and well-being are a key priority for this government.”

Assistant Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash pictured above

THE largest rural medicine conference ever held in Australia has been told the federal government has a reform program in place to ensure better access to health services for people living in regional, rural and remote communities. 

Story Picture Brad Cooper

Assistant Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash (pictured) told 650 delegates in Cairns today that there would be more time and effort put into consulting local professionals and communities about their needs.

The centrepiece of Senator Nash’s address was a commitment to provide $40 million over the forward estimates to support up to 100 additional intern places each year in private hospitals and non-traditional settings, with priority given to positions and rotations in rural and regional areas.

She said the government would provide $13.4 million for an additional 500 scholarships for nurses and allied health professionals, and allow more rural allied health workers to take leave, on top of the 100 allied health locum placements provided each year.

“Further, the government will invest $119 million to double the Practice Incentive Program (PIP) Teaching Payment for GPs who provide teaching opportunities with an additional benefit paid to those in rural and remote areas,” Senator Nash said.

“GP practices can also apply for expansion grants for teaching infrastructure based on an equal financial commitment, starting next July.

“Training for existing doctors and nurses in rural areas is also vital to keep up their skill levels and allow them to develop as professionals.

“Our vision is for a sustainable system that delivers quality health outcomes for all Australians, including indigenous Australians whose health and well-being are a key priority for this government.”

Rural Doctors Association of Australia president Dr Sheilagh Cronin, Cloncurry, said more support for training students was one of the best ways of increasing doctor numbers in the bush.

“We know that students who spend time in rural communities to get their training and have a positive experience there are more likely to return as registrars before moving to become qualified general practitioners,” she said.

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