Important times for rural wellbeing

Monday, 3 March 2014

It is understood that the Commission of Audit has provided a report to the Abbott Government and people in rural and remote areas will be anxious to know what its recommendations will mean for them. The Alliance made a submission to the Commission itself and a submission to the Senate’s inquiry into the Commission’s work. Both of them make the case for consideration to be given to groups of people who are disadvantaged due to their location. Despite the high quality of life available in the bush, some of those Australians who are most disadvantaged are in rural and remote areas. The Coalition has promised a focus on the role of the regions, including help for those that are facing challenging times (see for instance Warren Truss's speech to SEGRA). A down-payment on that special consideration is being made through the drought package. The Government has initiated what it calls 'a national conversation' on health, much of it focused on Medicare. There is a Medicare deficit of $1 billion a year in rural and remote areas and an overall health care deficit of $2.1 billion. This reflects the mal-distribution of doctors, medicines, allied health services and dentists. The private sector (of which general practice is a part) cannot provide fair access to services where markets are thin, as in many parts of rural and remote Australia. The May Budget must enhance the life opportunities of groups in society that are already disadvantaged. The Alliance needs regular input from people and organisations in rural and remote areas to ensure that its positions remain up-to-date, accurate and comprehensive. It has just made a submission to a parliamentary enquiry into speech pathology, with further submissions on services for skin cancer, and the development of Northern Australia, currently being prepared.

Interesting Times from National Rural Health Alliance on Vimeo.

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