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.”
For more information, contact the Minister’s Office on 0435 686 313