The theme of the 16th National Rural Health Conference is: Bridging social distance; Rural health innovating and collaborating.
Rural Australia is comprised of a wide range of wonderful places in which to live and work. It is home to one third of Australia’s population but gives back so much more by contributing around two-thirds of Australia’s national export earnings through agriculture, resources, tourism, retail, services and manufacturing.
It ‘goes with the territory’ that rural centres have more limited services than cities and this includes limited infrastructure and workforce to provide primary health care, hospitals and specialist services. The rural health sector has a proud record of practical, multidisciplinary responses to the challenges of distance, absence of scale and scarce resources. Rural health clinicians and health professionals prove their versatility and resilience time and time again. But, as a society, we cannot just accept that the 7 million people who reside in rural Australia continue to experience higher levels of injury and chronic disease and have shorter lives, compared to their city counterparts.
We cannot look only to technology, or science, or governments, or to just one group of clinicians or experts to improve the rural health system. It is a challenge for all of us – working together. We are proud of rural Australia. The voices of rural communities are powerful. Join those voices at the 16th National Rural Health Conference.