National conference will focus on the importance of a multi-sectoral approach to rural health

  • Man facing pond

Better Together! is the theme of the 15th National Rural Health Conference, being held in nipaluna/Hobart on 24-27 March 2019. One of its key principles is that people from the 'non-health sector' have critical roles to play in improving health.

The Conference will provide learning and networking opportunities for people from the education, transport, communications and housing sectors, as well as public and private healthcare professionals, health consumer advocates and carers, rural students and researchers and local government authorities.

“Many factors combine together to affect the health of individuals and communities. Whether people are healthy or no, is determined by their circumstances and environment. To a large extent, factors such as where we live, the state of our environment, genetics, our income and education level, and our relationships with friends and family all have considerable impacts on health, whereas the more commonly considered factors such as access and use of health care services often have less of an impact.” World Health Organization 2018

One of the highlights of the Conference is a strong focus on the determinants of health, with a pre-conference workshop, plenary sessions and a concurrent session on the topic.

Pre-conference workshop, 24 March 2019
Determinants of health: all sectors contribute to better health and wellbeing and to the social cohesion of rural and remote communities

Facilitator:  Robert Stable, Health Workforce Queensland
Speakers:  Donna Ah Chee, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress; Fran Baum, Flinders University; and Sir Harry Burns, University of Strathclyde, Scotland

Health status is critically influenced by such things as education; the economic base of rural areas; social norms and the individual’s attitude and behaviour towards alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; transport; energy and housing systems; environmental goods and services; social inclusion; and community safety.

A sense of wellbeing is also enabled by a sense of optimism and by having choices and control about decisions we make. It is also about having a sense of purpose in life, feeling confident to deal with life’s challenges and being part of a nurturing, supportive family and community.

How can health and non-health sectors, local government, disparate industries and communities, work better together to improve the health and wellbeing of rural and remote communities in Australia?

This interactive workshop will bring together a diverse range of health and non-health sector agencies, organisations and community groups to discuss the complex reality of how the social and economic determinants impact on health outcomes. Its aim is to agree on some practicable ways in which people can work together to enhance wellness.

The workshop will see the development of a set of strategies and proposals for action by all levels of government, including health and non-health agencies; and develop a strategic approach to promotion and action beyond the workshop to work “better together”.

Plenary sessions
Social, economic and ecological determinants of health

Day Three at the Conference itself will also focus on the determinants of health. The morning session will cover the social and economic determinants, while the afternoon session will provide community and ecological perspectives, providing a unique understanding of the reality of the way in which the determinants of health impact on people in rural and remote Australia.

Keynote speakers include:  Fran Baum, Professor of Public Health, Flinders University; Saul Eslake, Economist and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Tasmania; Sir Harry Burns, Professor of Global Public Health, University of Strathclyde, Scotland; Peter Sainsbury, Past President, Public Health Association of Australia and the Climate and Health Alliance; Anne Cahill Lambert, Health Consumer Advocate; and Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi, Co-founders of Orange Sky.

Franca Facci and Jenny Caspersonn are giving a presentation in one of the Conference's concurrent sessions entitled 'Seeing the whole person: addressing the link between social determinants and health'.

Early bird registration is available until the 31st December 2018 and details can be found on the Conference website.

For further information contact Leanne Coleman, Manager, Programs and Events, National Rural Health Alliance, (02) 6285 4660 or at conference@ruralhealth.org.au

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