Meeting in Adelaide at the 3rd Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium, many of Australia’s leading rural and remote health researchers broke new ground in their collaboration with communities, policy makers and service providers to build excellence in research.
Importantly the work at the Symposium will contribute to a clear national rural research strategy aimed at improving health care for people in rural and remote communities across Australia, and a drive to attract increased funding from governments and the private sector to support the strategy.
The 3rd biennial Symposium focused on three growing challenges to the health of rural and remote communities and the research needed to meet them. The topics were demographic change; weather-related adversity and mental health; and the impact of culture on rural health and health services.
Rural and remote health researchers are known for their collaboration with local health service providers and communities, and the Symposium’s purpose was to further strengthen such relationships.
People unable to be in Adelaide for the event can still hear the research ideas discussed and follow or contribute to their further development. The keynote addresses were streamed online and can still be viewed at http://nrha.org.au/3rrhss/. Follow-up work is being undertaken to refine some of the specific research proposals from the Symposium, and people and organisations everywhere will be encouraged to help with this and take forward the ideas. And, finally, a 30-minute television program on the Symposium is being produced for broadcast soon on the new Rural Health Channel.
One of the premises for the Symposium was the belief that, given a fair and reasonable level of support from funding bodies, rural and remote health research has the capacity to make a major contribution to improved health for the people of rural and remote areas. It is frequently the case that rural researchers have the advantage of being embedded in the system on which their research is focused. Given the relatively scarce research resources, they are aware of the need for their work to be relevant to immediate health needs, to be of high quality, and for it to be translatable into action for improved health and health service outcomes.
With the right agencies and interests at the table from the very beginning of any rural health research project, there is no ‘knowledge translation gap’. The service providers and community members that will benefit from the research are part of the project from the beginning to ensure that the design and implementation works for them.
The Symposium was sponsored by the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute (APHCRI) at the ANU, the Primary Health Care Research and Information Service (PHCRIS) at Flinders, the Australian Rural Health Education Network (AHREN) and the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA).
David Perkins, Symposium Convenor: 0412 461 716
Gordon Gregory, Executive Director, NRHA: 02 6285 4660