Tribute to health professionals living and working in remote Australia

The Assistant Minister for Health, Fiona Nash, has paid tribute to the nurses and other allied health professionals who deliver health services in Australia's remote communities.

Page last updated: 16 October 2014

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16 October 2014

The Australian Government Assistant Minister for Health, Fiona Nash, today paid tribute to the nurses and other allied health professionals who deliver health services in Australia's remote communities.

Opening the Council of Remote Area Nurses of Australia's CRANAplus 32nd Annual Conference today in Melbourne, Minister Nash acknowledged that it was a tough life for health professionals living and working in remote locations as it was for the many people who rely on their services.

”As a rural person I know how rewarding it is to live and work outside the big cities, however, there are special challenges in delivering health services in rural and remote Australia," Minister Nash said.

"The facts are that, compared to metropolitan areas, rural and remote Australians generally experience high rates of death, morbidity and chronic diseases and they often have shorter life expectancy.

"People in rural and remote communities often face higher living costs, difficulties sourcing fresh food, harsher environmental conditions and relative social isolation. This means their health is compromised and without health care professionals making the choice to live and work in these remote centres, life would be much harder for many people.”

Minister Nash congratulated CRANAplus on the work they do for their 1400 members organising and undertaking education and support, and the advocacy they provide for all health professionals working in remote Australia.

"For its part the Australian Government is investing an additional $13.4 million over the next three years to provide around 500 additional nursing and allied health scholarships, targeted to people from rural and remote areas, or in an identified area of need including primary care, aged care, mental health and Indigenous services,” she said.

"We also fund the Nursing and Allied Health Rural Locum Scheme so that nurses, midwives and allied health professionals are able to take professional and personal leave from their positions in rural and remote Australia.

"The Australian Government is also pleased to fund the CRANAplus support and education programmes. These include the Bush Services Support Line, a confidential free telephone service providing emotional support to remote health professionals; and the education/professional programmes through the multi-disciplinary First Line Emergency care and related courses comprising remote medical, maternity and paediatrics emergency care.

"The Government understands that we need to support rural and remote health workers – and their families – who deliver services often in very isolated communities.

"That's why in the last Budget we funded a range of initiatives to build on the existing rural and remote workforce by improving GP training, providing more nurses and allied health scholarships, and providing infrastructure funding.

"The Australian Government will also support training for up to 300 extra GPs a year by boosting GP training places from 1,200 to 1,500 in 2015 based in rural areas as far as possible. At least 50 per cent of the new trainees will be required to be in regional, rural and remote areas, resulting in more services being provided to these communities.

"These rural and regional initiatives will make a real difference over the next few years," Minister Nash said.

"To all of the health care professionals at this conference who are out there in some of the most isolated parts of Australia doing an incredible job, well done."

Media contact: Kay McNiece, 0412 132 585

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