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Nationals win Rural Health Commissioner

After a tremendous push from The Nationals, Australia is to appoint its first National Rural Health Commissioner. As an independent, powerful advocate for rural and remote health, the Commissioner will represent the health needs of regional communities, often overlooked during health reform. 

Under the Health Insurance Amendment Bill 2017 introduced by The Nationals’ Assistant Minister for Health, Dr. David Gillespie, the Federal Government will provide $4.4 million to establish the National Rural Health Commissioner. 

“The community relies on rural health professionals to have courage and the skillset to meet all kinds of challenges,” Dr Gillespie said.

“They form the heart of health care for many communities, and the National Rural Health Commissioner will be their champion, and the champion of rural communities everywhere.”

But what does this mean for rural communities?

This means more doctors in your area, health care workers with a higher level of training, and more accessible state of the art facilities.

Why is this important? Because 30% of Australians live in regional, rural or remote areas. This does not mean however that these Australians should be denied a basic human right to be able to live a safe, healthy life. The Nationals are determined to make sure the people of regional, rural and remote Australia have their needs addressed, and an independent champion for rural health means this right can never be undermined.

Developing a National Rural Generalist Pathway would be the first action taken by the newly appointed Commissioner; the pathway would recognise the unique or additional skills and extended working hours for rural doctors, and improve training access. The incentives this could provide will greatly encourage more health care professionals to practice within rural Australia, where they are sorely needed.

The Commissioner will also examine the additional needs for nursing, dental health, Indigenous health, mental health, midwifery and allied health.

This is a major win for people in the country and it will enshrine higher standards for regional and rural healthcare that will stand irrespective of changing Governments and shifting politics.

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