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The Editorial and a further article by Alliance staff set out the current challenges for rural health and the priorities that the newly elected Coalition Government should follow to support rural and remote healthcare.
Evelyn Edwards discusses how Queensland’s North and West Remote Health has been able to survive and thrive as a not-for-profit provider in an environment of constant change, competition, reduced funding and high staff turnover.
The rate of alcohol misuse by adolescents is much higher in rural than in urban areas. Researchers from The University of Queensland have found that adolescents in rural areas were more than twice as likely to obtain alcohol from their parents and that, rather than minimising harm, this practice may be causing harm by normalising underage drinking.
WA’s Earbus Foundation is doing great work to improve the ear health of Aboriginal children in the Pilbara. Debra Royle joined one of their outreach trips.
The Chronic Conditions Manual has been developed in response to demand from clinicians working in an environment of high rates of chronic conditions, complex co-morbidities and with a population developing chronic conditions at younger ages.
Several articles cover smartphone apps and online and telephone programs that are making a difference for people living in rural and remote Australia.
- The BeyondNow smartphone app, developed by beyondblue, helps people at risk of suicide to create a safety plan they can keep on their phone.
- Macquarie University’s Mindspot online programs are aimed at patients with mild to moderate mental health conditions.
- Royal Far West, Bupa and the local community have joined forces in a trial of using telecare to deliver health services to children in need in the NSW Nambucca Valley.
- The palliAGEDnurse app enables nurses caring for older people approaching the end of their lives to access current clinical advice at the point of care.
- QLife, a free, anonymous national telephone and web-based counselling service, is able to give peer support to LGBTI people from rural areas.
- The online Yarning Epilepsy course is providing linguistically and culturally tailored epilepsy education to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare, disability and community workers and their communities.
Mental Health Professional Networks are fostering collaboration among mental health professionals and healthcare providers to the benefit of services and their clients in rural communities.
In other articles, we hear from: medical student, Eugene D’Souza, about his placement in Katherine, NT – his first taste of remote Australia; GP registrar, Teena Downton, reflecting on the meaning of ‘rural’; Lindy Swain, from the Rural Special Interest Group of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, arguing for the need for new models for funding of clinical pharmacist services in rural and remote areas; and the Autism CRC which has found, in a national survey of diagnostic assessments of autism, vast discrepancies in practices including that families living outside metropolitan areas are waiting longer for assessments, thus delaying access to early intervention for children diagnosed with autism.
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