Standing up for Rural Health: Learning from the past, Action for the future
Keynote and contributed papers were clustered around the five themes listed below. Papers that dealt with issues around both policy and practice. They had a strong multi-disciplinary flavour.
How can health services to consumers be better developed across State/Territory and professional borders? Are there some special cross-border developments along the Murray River? How is teamwork developed across professional and disciplinary boundaries? How is quality assured in inter-disciplinary work? What is the place of inter-professional education and practice in health reform as a whole?
There are many regional and local success stories in rural and remote health. Where are they and what outcomes have they had? What are their key characteristics? To what extent are they replicable to other areas? Those relating to Indigenous health are of particular importance. What are the key barriers where services have not been effective?
Prevention is better than cure, and early intervention means a better prognosis for successful management of illness and disease. What are the political or professional constraints on early intervention? Where are the successes? What is the evidence for the benefits of early intervention? Are sufficient resources being directed to early intervention?
What is the status of the evidence base in rural and remote health and what are the appropriate measures to be used? Where are the key research gaps? Is there clear evidence about access and equity issues? How do our rural and remote health services compare across regions and with other nations? Is remoteness itself a health risk factor?
What are the particular characteristics of conditions such as diabetes, obesity, mental health and heart disease in rural and remote areas? What are the intervention and management systems that work well in the bush and for Indigenous populations? What are the roles of screening, self management systems and health teamwork for chronic disease in rural and remote areas?
As well as the ‘expected’ natural disasters, such as drought, flood and fire, rural and remote Australia would be particularly affected if avian flu or foot and mouth were to reach Australia. What is the status of preparation in our country areas? What are the characteristics of communities and health services which would make our regions resilient? What is the level of risk of occurrence and how can it be reduced?