National Rural Health Alliance welcomes new members

06 December 2013

At its annual face-to-face meeting on 22-26 November, Council of the National Rural Health Alliance welcomed three new national organisations to membership. They are the rural and remote interest groups of the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine, the Australian College of Midwives, and Speech Pathology Australia.

The Rural, Regional and Remote Committee of the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine (ACEM) has an interest in all aspects of emergency medicine, training, quality and emergency care pertaining to rural and remote areas. It provides input into and oversight of a number of ACEM programs that promote and extend emergency medicine in rural and remote areas.

Dr Niall Small, Chairperson of the ACEM Rural, Regional and Remote Committee, says that NRHA membership will assist the Rural, Regional and Remote Committee to promote improved health outcomes, greater specialist outreach, and enhanced training in emergency and acute care for rural and remote communities.

“Through membership of this key national Alliance, ACEM’s Rural, Regional and Remote Committee can be involved in a broader policy and advocacy discourse and work collaboratively with other agencies to strengthen rural health across Australia,” he said.

The Rural and Remote Advisory Committee of the Australian College of Midwives (ACM) represents the ACM’s1500 members in rural, regional and remote areas. The Committee provides advice to the College on issues related to maternity care in rural and remote areas. Their first undertaking as a group was to look at recommendations for improving the Patient Assisted Transport Scheme and to help prepare the Australian College of Midwives’ CEO for her meeting with the Chief Nurses and Midwives of Australia.

Rosie Downing, Chair of the Rural and Remote Advisory Committee of the ACM, says that midwifery care, by its very definition, is primary health care. “As practitioners working in rural and remote contexts we will often be working to improve access (to goods, services and entitlements) and living conditions - as well as advocating for social justice issues."

“In a sense, midwives see themselves as advocates for women in their care, so the midwife's focus is on whatever issues are affecting the woman. We advocate for maternity care locally, and work with our professional colleagues from medicine and nursing to ensure the best quality of care that is possible in areas that are frequently under-resourced."

“The Rural and Remote Advisory Committee and the College itself are excited about joining the Alliance. We look forward to working together to improve the health and wellbeing of people who live in rural and remote communities, especially those seeking maternity care,” Ms Downing said.

Speech Pathology Australia's Rural and Remote Member Community has 125 practitioners in rural Australia. The community provides a forum for the sharing of information and views, collaboration, support and extending professional networks.

Gail Mulcair, CEO of Speech Pathology Australia, says the Rural and Remote Member Community will bring to the Alliance and its work specialised knowledge of specific issues affecting speech pathologists, and allied health in general, in a rural and remote context.

“Conversely, the insights and activity of the NRHA will be highly valuable in the strategic planning and priorities of SPA, and will ensure SPA continues to be informed and responsive on issues for rural communities,” she said.

In welcoming the new members Chair of the Alliance, Dr Tim Kelly, said their contributions would strengthen the Alliance’s capacity to be well informed and up-to-date about rural and remote patient need and service delivery.

This brings to five the number of new organisations admitted to Alliance membership this year, the other two being Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) and the Federation of Rural Australian Medical Educators (FRAME).

“Through its broad membership of national organisations, the National Rural Health Alliance is well placed in its work to improve the health of the more than 6.7 million people who live in rural and remote Australia”, Dr Kelly said.

Media Release Contact Info: 

Gordon Gregory, Executive Director 02 6285 4660

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