Primary health care services encompass active treatment, screening programs, health education on individual health risks, and more broadly, efforts to address health concerns for the entire community through preventative health activities.
Service providers are expected to undertake regular community needs assessments and evaluate their performance to deliver primary health care in a way that best meets the identified needs of rural communities. Service delivery models that they use must be responsive to community needs, use the available workforce, and are practical, acknowledging the individual characteristics e.g. geography, demography, isolation, etc. of their community. The service must also take into account the aim and objectives of the RPHS program.
Full details are in the operational guidelines. These guidelines and the reporting templates can be accessed at Rural Primary Health Services Program Guidelines and Reporting Templates.
Preventative health initiativePrevention of illness and chronic disease as well as the promotion of mental and social well-being is central to improving the health of remote and very remote communities and communities in rural areas which demonstrate high health needs and limited access to health services.
Additional funding has been provided under the Preventative Health Initiative (PHI) for preventative health projects to some RPHS which target the rural, remote and very remote communities which meet these criteria. It is recognised that meeting service provision demands for treatment can limit an organisation’s capacity to undertake preventative health projects. The PHI funding will enable a planned approach to preventative health to be taken by these RPHS organisations funded to work with the communities to address health issues.
The successful projects are building the capacity of the community to better manage health risk factors. An important component to building and sustaining capacity and improvements in health is building collaborative partnerships across government, non-government and the private sector both within and outside the health sector.
Full details are in the operational guidelines. These and the reporting templates can be accessed at Preventative Health Initiative Guidelines and Reporting Templates.
BackgroundOn 1 July 2008, the Government created the Office of Rural Health to drive rural health reform in response to the findings of the Audit of Health Workforce in Rural and Regional Australia. Since its establishment, the Office has reviewed the Government’s targeted rural health programs as a particular focus for reform.
The findings from the review indicated that many rural health programs were directed towards achieving the same or similar outcomes albeit via different strategies. Rural primary health programs have been consolidated and streamlined. Such an approach:
- allows flexibility in primary health care service provision;
- enables services to better respond to the needs of rural communities;
- helps minimise duplication of effort; and
- helps maximise efficiencies in service provision and workforce utilisation.
The RPHS brings together the:
- More Allied Health Services program;
- Regional Health Services program;
- Multipurpose Centre program; and
- Building Healthy Communities in Remote Australia program.