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

National Rural Health Commissioner, Emeritus Professor Paul Worley has today spoken to the findings of his final reports on rural health at today’s special rural health roundtable; the sixth convened by Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton, during COVID-19.

Minister Coulton praised Prof Worley for his dedication and for the work done in progressing and proposing solutions to rural health challenges.

“Improving access to health care for rural Australians remains a core priority for this Coalition Government and the Office of National Rural Health Commissioner is a key element of our strategy to do so,” Minister Coulton said

“Professor Worley has done an outstanding job as inaugural Commissioner, and it was fitting he could today speak to his report findings with a collection of the nation’s rural and remote health stakeholders.

“The support shown today by stakeholders shows how vital Professor Worley’s work is to overcoming many of the challenges faced by rural and remote communities and reinforces our Government’s decision to permanently continue the Office.”

Professor Worley thanked the Minister and all rural stakeholders and said his reports follow serious consultation with the health sector and communities across rural and remote Australia.

“This report, developed through broad consultation, searching the published evidence, provides achievable strategies for the Australian Government to provide national leadership for allied health professionals,” Professor Worley said.

“Additionally, it show strategies how to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the allied health workforce, improve our workforce planning capability, and stimulate rural economies by trialling service and learning consortia that enable networks of rural and remote towns to create more attractive and sustainable allied health jobs and train their own workforce.

“These new approaches to connect local allied health services, including with other primary care providers complement the innovations that are occurring around the country as the National Rural Generalist Pathway is developed and will also provide a much needed workforce for aged care, disability services and schools in these towns.

“Your postcode should not influence your prognosis. Investing in our health workforce is an investment in health and economic prosperity.

“Rural Australia is ready and waiting to partner with the Australian Government to run with these initiatives and be an even better place to live, work, and learn.”

Legislation to continue the Office in a strengthened and ongoing manner was endorsed by Parliament earlier in the week.

From 1 July 2020, the Office of National Rural Health Commissioner will take a broader approach to rural health, and will help deliver the Government’s key reforms and targeted rural health priorities to support practical change for rural and remote communities.

Minister Coulton said the new Commissioner –who will begin on 1 July 2020 – and Deputy Commissioners would continue to listen to the needs of rural and remote communities and support practical change to improve access to health care for patients.