National Rural Health Alliance Conference 2019
Solving the challenges of rural health: ‘Better Together’
In late March, members of the Three Rivers Team recently joined over 1,100 delegates in attending the 15th National Rural Health (NRH) conference in Hobart. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Better Together’, highlighting the need for all of us involved in rural health, be it clinicians, researchers, educators, community or policy makers, to work together in moving towards solutions to some of the issues facing people living in regional, rural and remote Australia.
Three Rivers’ was pleased to join forces with the CSU / Western Sydney University (WSU) Joint Program in Medicine team as sole Education Sponsor for this event. The Doctor of Medicine program will be established at CSU’s orange campus as a joint program with (WSU) in 2021. It is being built on a strong foundation of rural models of care, high levels of Inter-Professional Education (IPE) and an Indigenous Curriculum. The NRHA Conference was a natural choice of sponsorship to promote the new program and its role in supporting sustainable and high-quality health care in rural Australia.
There were many great speakers over the four days with highlights being Professor Fran Baum (Flinders University) and Sir Harry Burns (Scotland’s former Chief Medical Officer) giving motivational and thought-provoking talks. Working in a co-production manner was a strong message from many speakers, including Sir Harry Burns, who highlighted the need to work with people not for people on creating meaningful change in public health and health systems. Other important messages about tackling change within health systems came from Dr Sean MacDermott (La Trobe) when he talked about cognitive screening in rural patients, reminding us all when we are seeking understanding about how things are done and how we can affect change, to "consider the why and then keep asking why".
A vital output from the conference was the summary of delegate Priority Recommendations put forward in the online portal, the 'Sharing Shed'. The recommendations were presented to Senator Bridget McKenzie (Minister for Regional Services) in the final session.
Select items from the list include:
- the endorsement by delegates of the Uluru Statement From The Heart, with calls for funding commitments to Aboriginal health care services and practitioners;
- calls to change how we measure health, with a focus on wellbeing, not just economic factors;
- the redress of health workforce maldistribution with equity of investment across health professionals and to ensure that health research is measured by community impact, not just academic papers.
The final day of the conference also included a moving performance from Josh Arnold from Small Town Culture, with Dunalley and Risdon Vale Primary Schools in Tasmania and the conference choir, who sang a song written especially for the conference titled “Better Together”. A poignant reminder that the voices of the young need us to unite for our health; Cooee!
Highlights from the conference can be found here: http://www.ruralhealth.org.au/15nrhc/highlights
Delegate Priority recommendations can be read here.
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