Over the three days of CouncilFest 2016, the Council of the National Rural Health Alliance has been meeting in Canberra. The Council met with Ministers and Members of Parliament, then with senior Departmental representatives and discussed the health of rural health in Australia.
Five key priorities were agreed by the Council to set the direction for the organisation and to inform objectives the Alliance will pursue for rural health and the Rural Health Commissioner.
David Butt, Chief Executive Officer of the Alliance says, “By using these priorities, with the backing of the Alliance’s 39 member bodies, we want to effect positive, measurable outcomes for the health of people in rural and remote Australia.”
“Our rural and remote communities could be an economic powerhouse, but poor health and poor access to a range of services is stopping us from unlocking their full economic potential.
“As part of empowering our rural and remote communities, we need to get the health workforce in the right place”, Mr Butt said. “This means ensuring we are training the full range of health professionals, supporting them in rural training placements and providing supervised entry level rural and remote positions.
“We need to re-focus our efforts in turning around the terrible health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health services have demonstrated their ability to take holistic approaches to the health and wellbeing of people, taking leadership roles in areas such as early childhood, building family and child resilience, education, employment, and housing.
“The 15 Primary Health Networks that support rural and remote Australia need to have long term stability and be able to respond flexibly to the significant challenges that they have to address. The Alliance supports the weighted funding mechanisms used to distribute funds, but we know that metropolitan solutions simply don’t work in rural and remote communities.
“We need greater focus on improving child health, education, and wellbeing by supporting families to give children the best start in life. A holistic early childhood strategy informing high quality, locally responsive and culturally appropriate programs with stable, long term funding is vital”, Mr Butt stated. “It should focus on the entire early lifespan for children, with a particular focus on the first 1,000 days – from conception to the age of 2. Children need to be healthy so they can learn and develop to their maximum potential, both at school and in their broader family and community lives.
“As the new Chief Executive Officer, I am looking forward to working with government, health professionals, decision-makers and rural and remote communities so that we can really make a difference. I hope we at the Alliance can help realise the potential out there and get those 7 million people the fair go they need” said Mr Butt.