The National Rural Health Alliance warmly welcomes the passage of the legislation to establish the role of the National Rural Health Commissioner.
“The Alliance sees the National Rural Health Commissioner as a potential game changer, bringing a welcome focus on rural health,” says David Butt, Chief Executive Officer.
“The Alliance supports the initial focus of the role on establishing the Rural Generalist Pathway for general practice and looks forward to working with the Commissioner to ensure this is done effectively. We are also pleased to note that amendments made to the legislation mean the Commissioner now has a broader role in providing advice to Government on rural health.
“Of course we also recognise that the need to address the poor health outcomes of people in rural and remote Australia cannot be met by this one position – it requires broad ranging action across a range of complex factors impacting on the health and wellbeing of people living in rural and remote Australia.
“It is very important that the Commissioner not be seen as the answer to all things rural – they should be given the space and capacity to undertake the specific tasks they are required to perform and certainly their existence should not abrogate advancement of other vital health policy initiatives which are best performed by others.
”Delegates at the recent National Rural Health Conference identified seven key priority areas for action and these were presented to the Assistant Minister for Health, the Hon. Dr David Gillespie.
“First among these was the development of a dedicated National Rural Health Strategy and associated implementation plan – something which requires action by Federal, State and Territory governments in broad consultation with the sector and which, by its very nature, is not the natural domain of the National Rural Health Commissioner.
“The Alliance is looking forward to working with and supporting the Commissioner in carrying out his or her duties. More broadly, we are looking at working with all Governments and other stakeholders in the development of a long-overdue national rural health strategy.”