Rural health conference seeks blueprint for national reform

13 January 2011

With ‘action’ a key word for the sector in 2011, delegates attending the 11th National Rural Health Conference in Perth can look forward to a program that provides answers to many of the health challenges faced by rural and remote communities in every State.

Under the theme Rural and Remote Australia: the heart of a healthy nation, this biennial event to be held at the Perth Exhibition Convention Centre from 13-16 March, will benefit from the knowledge of many of the country’s most experienced and innovative minds.

Tom Calma will speak about the health and wellbeing of Australia’s first peoples; Colleen Hayward will talk about the importance of the social determinants of good health, and Sam Prince will report on his aspirations for improving rural and remote health by eradicating one disease at a time – beginning with scabies.

Delegates will learn lessons from overseas experiences: Amanda Sheedy from the People’s Food Project Canada will speak on Engaging Citizens in Policy Development and there will be speakers from Papua New Guinea and Timor L’Este on health in the Pacific Region.

Other issues of importance include recurring natural disasters, the ongoing closure of rural hospitals, the long term sustainability of rural communities, the sorry state of oral health and the lack of aged care and mental health facilities in the Bush.

“Because health remains at the forefront of the national reform agenda, in 2011 we are hopeful that the time has come for action,” said NRHA Executive Director, Gordon Gregory. “The conference themes will help to solicit answers to health-related challenges that continue to affect the lives of the seven million people who live in country Australia.’’

Inter-professional learning, multi-disciplinary care and workforce redesign are also due for discussion at a time when attracting qualified health staff to the bush – and retaining them – is proving difficult.

Conference details, including a detailed program, are at www.ruralhealth.org.au