Minister for Mental Health, Mark Butler, will officially launch the Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) in Accessible and equitable primary health service provision in rural and remote Australia in Parliament House next Tuesday (20 September).
This CRE - one of three to be established - is a collaboration between Monash University School of Rural Health, the Flinders/Charles Darwin University Centre for Remote Health, and the University of Sydney Department of Rural Health in Broken Hill.
Minister Butler‟s launch will be at the annual face-to-face meeting of the NRHA, the peak body working to improve health status in rural areas.
Dr Jenny May, Chair of the NRHA, said the CRE‟s research has the potential to help governments to improve access for people in rural and remote areas to the health services needed.
“Limited access to services, and the infrastructure and staffing deficits that cause it, is a fundamental challenge in the rural health sector. This CRE will develop a better understanding of health behaviour relating to the use of primary care services in rural and remote Australia and help guide resource allocation,” Dr May said.
The CRE will actively research and report on an “index of access‟ to services in rural and remote areas, taking account of population size, location and need. It will determine which service models work best to minimise barriers (such as distance and affordability) and maximise access to primary care, focusing on aged care, mental health and Indigenous health.
Professor John Humphreys, one of the CRE‟s Chief Investigators, emphasised that the research results will be of direct benefit to providers and policymakers. “The research will provide a valuable basis to guide health policies for small rural communities that face difficulties in attracting doctors and other health professionals, so they can maintain adequate health care services,” he said.
Professor John Humphreys - 03 5440 9081
Gordon Gregory, NRHA - 02 6285 4660