Agreed policy positions from the 13th National Rural Health Conference

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The 37 member bodies in the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) have considered the priority recommendations from the 13th National Rural Health Conference. The result is a publication entitled Policy proposals endorsed by NRHA - Based on the priority recommendations from 13th National Rural Health Conference, July 2015.

These policy proposals have the status of agreed NRHA policy. They are the views of the NRHA but may not reflect the full or particular views of all of its Member Bodies.

The NRHA now intends to seek responses to, and action on, these proposals from any entity that can progress them – governments or NGOs, consumers or clinicians, local or national bodies. It encourages other organisations that support the ideas, and that share its determination to improve health and health services in rural and remote areas, to support the proposals and do anything they can to advance them.

The eleven proposals relate to the following issues.

  1. Achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality.
  2. Fast, reliable and affordable digital access.
  3. The potential of a cross-portfolio Working Group designed to help rural PHNs work collaboratively across program areas in various portfolios.
  4. The call for a Senate Inquiry into food security in remote and rural areas.
  5. Ways of making the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) effective in rural and remote areas, including through enhancing the market for services and workforce.
  6. A call on the Commonwealth Government to develop a new National Rural Health Workforce Strategy to address longstanding rural health workforce deficits.
  7. A proposal for the Commonwealth to examine the extent to which people in rural and remote areas are missing out on health funding, including through limited access to programs funded by Medicare.
  8. A request to governments to implement a national, standardised screening program for both three-year olds and for school-readiness.
  9. A call on governments to jointly fund an integrated strategy to Close the Gap for Vision, including through a subsidised spectacle scheme.
  10. A call for Australia to continue to take a proactive role in improving the health and wellbeing of people in developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
  11. Improving mental health outcomes by injecting more flexibility into funding streams and service models, enabling localised solutions for local contexts, and by providing more support for team care in mental health.

Adoption of these proposals will contribute to better health and wellbeing for the people of rural and remote Australia and provide them with better access to high quality, affordable, safe and well-coordinated health care