“Chronic illness growth and rural workforce shortage is but a forecast.
Investing in country health services and rural health professionals can halt these forecasts from ever being realised.
Investing now will save lives and dollars in the long run.”
RFDS CEO Dr Martin Laverty called the report a call to arms.
Download the Report HERE
” Indigenous Australians comprise approximately 2.8% of the total Australian population, although they comprise almost half the population in remote areas.
The RFDS notes the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and its state-based organisations provide a pivotal service to rural and remote communities. NACCHO supports the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) which is a primary healthcare service operated by local Aboriginal communities.
The RFDS works in close partnership with many remote branches of the AMS, and respects and promotes the principle of community control “
“The RFDS respects and acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first Australians and our vision for reconciliation is a culture that strives for unity, equity and respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.
The RFDS is committed to improved health outcomes and access to health services for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) outlines our intentions to use research and policy to drive this improvement.
RFDS research and policy reports, such as this one, include data on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as part of a broader effort to improve health outcomes and access to health services a contribution to the ‘Close the Gap’ campaign.”
RFDS Press Release
Australia’s remote population is forecast to grow only marginally in a decade. Yet chronic illness will rise dramatically, with the burden of mental illness forecast to increase by a fifth, if action is not taken to halt current trends.
Health service access in rural regions is also forecast to lag behind metropolitan areas, according to Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) research: From 90 to 100: Planning for the health needs of country Australia in 2028. The report provides health service forecasts form 2018, the RFDS 90th year of operation until 2028, the centenary year of the RFDS.
The forecast shows while the Australian population will grow from 25 million to 29 million in a decade, remote and very remote Australia’s population will grow by an average of only 0.2% each year, from 493,752 to only 504,724 in 2028.
11.8 million Australians currently live with at least one chronic illness, with 2028 forecasts equalling 13.8 million, a national increase of 15.6%. Yet chronic illness prevalence forecast to remain higher in remote Australia than metropolitan areas.
Disability-adjusted life years (DALY), or the number of years lost to ill-health, disability or early death, are forecast to increase in remote areas over the decade to 2028 with:
- cancer up by 15.6%, from 37.6 to 44 DALYs;
- mental illness up by 21.6%, from 21.8 to 27.1 DALYs;
- neurological conditions such as Alzheimers, up by 47.8%, from 13.2 to 21.5 DALYs.
A welcome fall of 22.8% in the burden of cardiovascular disease in remote Australia is forecast, from 37.6 DALYs down to 29.9 in 2028, reflecting improvement in heart attack prevention and treatment in parts of country Australia.
The report forecasts by 2028 remote Australia will have only:
- a fifth the number of General Practitioners compared to metropolitan areas (43 compared to 255 per 100,000 population);
- a twelfth of the number of physiotherapists (23 compared to 276 per 100,000 population);
- half the number of pharmacists (52 as compared to 113 per 100,000 population);
- and a third the number of psychologists (34 as compared to 104 per 100,000 population).
Nurse and midwifery levels in metropolitan and remote areas by 2028 are forecast to be almost even, with 1,361 per 100,000 population in city areas and 1,259 in remote areas.
A survey of rural clinicians published in the report finds health literacy, mental health services, and improved access to primary care services are priorities for the next decade. The report also forecasts growth in demand for RFDS services by its centenary year in 2028.
Looking Ahead: Responding to the Health Needs of Country Australia in 2028 is available here