Date published: 
19 June 2020
Media type: 
Media release
General public

The Federal Government’s new National Rural Health Commissioner will start work from 1 July 2020 after legislation passed today.

Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton said continuing and expanding the Office will help deliver the Government’s key reforms and targeted rural health priorities to support practical change for communities.

“Our Coalition Government is passionate about ensuring rural Australians enjoy equitable access to our nation’s world-class health system,” Minister Coulton said.

“It shouldn’t matter that you live in Merimbula or Michelago, all Australians deserve to have their voice heard when it comes to accessing local health care.

“That’s why we established the office of National Rural Health Commissioner back in 2017 and why we today stand proudly beside our commitment to rural Australians with an ongoing Office.”

More than just continuing, the Government is strengthening the Office by broadening its scope and implementing Deputy Commissioners to provide specific advice on rural allied health, nursing, and Indigenous health.

“No two rural communities are the same, which is why innovative and flexible models are needed to solve the complex challenges many face,” Minister Coulton said.

“I am excited about the future of the office, what it means for people in the bush, it is very pleasing to see Parliament provide it urgent passage.”

Minister Coulton said the Office joins other successful programs within the Government’s package of rural health reforms.

“We have delivered the $550 million Stronger Rural Health Strategy, which encompasses a suite of measures specifically designed to overcome the many challenges faced by rural communities in trying to attract medical and health professionals.

“Through the Murray Darling Medical Schools Network, the Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund, and other programs, we are delivering more opportunities regional students who in future will become rural doctors.”

The new and expanded Office will begin on 1 July 2020. The Office of Rural Health Commissioner was first established in 2017, following the National Party’s 2016 election commitment to do so.