” Rural and regional Australians have higher rates of major diseases including heart disease and stroke, chronic lung conditions, diabetes, asthma, and arthritis.
We also have a persistent and disturbingly large gap in health outcomes and life expectancy, between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians “
Minister Gillespie said Australia’s long life expectancy and good average health outcomes disguised unacceptable differences between population groups and communities, particularly in rural Australia : See Full Response press release from Minister below
After four action-packed days, the 14th National Rural Health Conference with its theme of ‘A World of Rural Health’, has concluded with the delivery of the priority recommendations to emerge from the event to Assistant Minister for Health, David Gillespie.
According to CEO of the NRHA, David Butt, “the Conference provided an excellent opportunity for learning and sharing the evidence of what works in rural and remote health.
“People who live and work in rural and remote Australia have the knowledge about what works and what needs to change to improve health and wellbeing.
“Very importantly, through the conference they have identified key recommendations for health systems reform, to improve the health and wellbeing of the seven million people who live in rural and remote Australia,” Mr Butt said.
Download a PDF Copy of all recommendations
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
AUSTRALIA LEADS IN INNOVATION FOR RURAL HEALTH
The Coalition Government’s innovative reforms to improve the health of rural, regional and remote communities were today showcased to the 14th World Rural Health Conference.
In his opening address to the conference in Cairns, Assistant Minister for Health, Dr David Gillespie, outlined a series of major changes to improve rural health which will start or bed down over the coming year.
- legislation to establish the first independent National Rural Health Commissioner;
- pathways to recognise rural GPs as “Rural Generalists”;
- Primary Health Networks across Australia commission health services to ensure that local health needs are met;
- federally funded mental health services including suicide prevention and drug and alcohol rehabilitation now managed at the regional level by PHNs;
- 200 general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services will soon start providing Health Care Home services, to coordinate care for people with chronic conditions.
Minister Gillespie said Australia’s long life expectancy and good average health outcomes disguised unacceptable differences between population groups and communities, particularly in rural Australia.
Rural and regional Australians have higher rates of major diseases including heart disease and stroke, chronic lung conditions, diabetes, asthma, and arthritis.
“We also have a persistent and disturbingly large gap in health outcomes and life expectancy, between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” he said.
Minister Gillespie also represented the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, at the National Rural Health Alliance Conference held as part of the World of Rural Health event.
“I know that it takes determination, resilience and flexibility to provide the care that your patients need, without the resources available to your counterparts in the cities,” Minister Gillespie said.
“The Prime Minister shares my passion – your passion – for rural Australia.
“Like you, and me, he believes that Australians have a right to high quality, affordable and accessible health care, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances.
“Meeting the needs of rural families and communities is one of the top priorities in the long term national health plan.”
Smile: $11m reduces gap in rural and remote dental services
Press Release 2
People living and working in rural and remote Australia will now have access to dental services that were previously unavailable.
Assistant Minister for Health, Dr David Gillespie, said today that the Coalition Government is providing $11 million to the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) to provide dental services.
“The Royal Flying Doctor Service is well-placed to provide these essential mobile outreach dental services in rural and remote Australia,” Minister Gillespie said.
“Where there is an identified market failure and there are gaps in services, it is important that the Government steps in to provide assistance. Today we deliver on our election commitment to ensure people outside our major cities have better access to high quality dental services.”
The Government provides funding to the RFDS under the RFDS Program, which aims to ensure access to essential emergency aeromedical and other primary health care services in rural and remote areas of Australia.
“The Flying Doctor welcomes this new funding for dental services in rural and remote Australia,” RFDS of Australia CEO, Martin Laverty, said.
“There are only one third the dentists in remote areas, with 72 dentists per 100,000 people in major cities, and less than 23 per 100,000 people in remote areas.”
“The research statistics are compelling, with more than one-third of remote area residents living with untreated decay. Essentially, when people from remote areas visit the dentist, they are more likely to require acute intervention – 1 in 3 had a tooth extraction in a year, compared with less than 1 in 10 in metropolitan areas.”
“This funding from the Federal Government will enable the Flying Doctor to expand its dental outreach program to start tackling the disparity that exists between city and the bush – and for that we are very, very thankful”.
On 28 June 2016, the Government announced it would continue to support the RFDS by extending its contract for continued delivery of aeromedical services until 30 June 2020.
The announcement included a commitment of an additional $11 million over two years for the RFDS to expand its existing non-Commonwealth funded dental services for the period 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2019.
Labor Party Response
Labor supports the development of a national rural health strategy and associated implementation plan, as part of ensuring there is clear and targeted action towards closing the gap in health outcomes between Australians living in rural areas and their metropolitan peers.
Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King announced Labor’s support for a strategy at the National Rural Health Conference in Cairns, calling on the Government to join in bipartisan support.
“The impact of inequity on health and recognising the challenges that some groups face which require more targeted support – including rural and remote Australians – was a clear theme to emerge from Labor’s National Health Summit in March,” Ms King said.
“We think that a national rural health strategy is an important step to ensuring we have a defined roadmap to improving health outcomes for Australians living outside our big cities and I hope the Government follows our lead.”
Shadow Assistant Minister for Medicare, Tony Zappia, said while Labor welcomes the implementation of the National Rural Health Commissioner, this single role will not be a cure-all.
“The National Rural Health Commissioner would aid in the implementation of a national rural health strategy, but we still need to have an understanding of where we are going, and what we are trying to achieve in rural heath,” Mr Zappia said.
“A national rural health strategy would help achieve this goal of all levels of Government working more closely together, to reduce fragmentation and duplication.”