I’ve spent my life as a nurse, midwife and rural health researcher working to improve health services in our region. If elected, improving access to health care will be a major priority.We have 28% of the population experiencing 1.3 times the total burden of disease and yet successive governments don’t give it priority. We need a focus on rural health.
In order to improve access we need a rural health workforce who are supported in the regions to train locally and have the infrastructure they need to provide the highest quality care.
Multidisciplinary teams, modern hospitals, investment in primary care and health promotion are essential to improve the poorer health outcomes we see in our rural areas where 7 million Australians live.The mental health of rural people is a particular concern. Suicide is twice as high in rural areas compared with urban areas, with males three times more likely than females to die by suicide. This is directly attributable to a lack of mental health services in rural Australia.
- We need a new National Rural Health strategy
- I support calls from the National Rural Health Alliance for $300m in funding over four years for allied health positions in rural and regional Australia
- The current government’s $550m Stronger Rural Health Strategy in the 2018 Federal Budget committed funding for 3000 additional doctors and 3000 additional nurses over 10 years. Complete health care also requires other health care professionals such as physiotherapists, psychologists, audiologists, optometrists, osteopaths, podiatrists, speech pathologists and social workers. Funds are urgently needed to incentivise these professions to work in rural, regional and remote areas where they are in undersupply in the same way as GPs are incentivised to practise in these areas.
- A dedicated rural focus for the Medical Research Future Fund to direct much needed research resources to the unique health challenges faced in regional Australia. A third of Australians live in rural Australia so a third of the research future fund should address this.
- Comprehensive investment in tele-health:
- Adequate rebates to GPs and allied health professionals to provide tele-health consults
- Investment in the communications infrastructure needed to deliver it
- Work with our rural hospitals, State and Federal government to address out of pocket expenses for patients attending Urgent Care Centres in Indi
- Burden of disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people is 2.3 times higher than the general population. This is unacceptable. I strongly support measures proposed by the Rural Health Alliance and others to address this gap.
- Provision of funding certainty to our Rural Health services operating under the Federal Multi Purpose Funding agreement.