Building on the previous three Rural Health Stakeholder Roundtable (Roundtable) meetings, the June 2017 meeting was chaired by Assistant Minister for Health, the Hon Dr David Gillespie MP. Prior to the establishment of the National Rural Health Commissioner (the Commissioner), this Roundtable meeting was convened for members to discuss current rural health reform.
Agenda Items - 30 June 2017 meeting
- topics discussed during the previous Roundtable meeting in November 2016;
- the work plan of the Commissioner;
- the establishment and work plan of the Distribution Working Group;
- remote health workforce safety; and
- information presented by the Department of Health on health workforce data, current supply and future demand.
National Rural Health Commissioner (the Commissioner)Assistant Minister Gillespie noted that legislation to establish the role of the Commissioner has passed through Parliament and received Royal Assent. A merit based recruitment process to appoint the Commissioner has commenced.
The Roundtable considered the proposed work plan for the Commissioner and discussed how the rural health sector can assist the Commissioner to achieve these outcomes. Assistant Minister Gillespie noted that the Commissioner will participate in future Roundtable meetings.
The Commissioner will address health workforce distribution and quality of service. It was outlined that the first priority of the Commissioner would be to develop the National Rural Generalist Pathways.
As discussed at the previous Roundtable meeting, there was consensus that the Commissioner will consider the needs of the nursing, dental health, pharmacy, Indigenous health, mental health, midwifery, occupational therapy, and physical therapy workforces as well as develop effective models of care to meet the unique needs of rural communities.
Distribution Working Group (DWG)The Roundtable was updated on the progress of establishing a DWG and discussed the work plan and three core responsibilities of the DWG. Assistant Minister Gillespie explained that the role of the DWG is to review two distribution levers; the District of Workforce Shortage system and the Modified Monash Model. as well as consider ways to encourage an equitable distribution of the health workforce.
Members welcomed the Government’s creation of the DWG and supported the work plan as outlined by the Assistant Minister for Health.
Remote health workforce safetyThe Roundtable discussed ways that state and territory governments, employers and individuals can improve the safety of the remote area health workforce. CRANAplus presented on a suite of resources it has developed and provided details of how to access these resources. Assistant Minister Gillespie noted the ‘Safety and Security Guidelines for Remote and Isolated Health’ developed by CRANAplus would be presented to AHMAC for discussion with jurisdictional health ministers on the issue.
Workforce Data, Current Supply and Future DemandWorkforce data, current supply and future demand projections was presented to members. Members discussed the challenges and policy considerations for targeting solutions to address issues of workforce distribution and further data requirements regarding allied health, Indigenous, socioeconomics and other vulnerable groups. Members agreed that the DWS system requires reviewing and incentives need to be targeted to meet the needs of communities
Roundtable MembershipThe Roundtable membership includes a number of peak bodies representing the rural health workforce.
Members in attendance for the 30 June 2017 meeting were:
- Allied Health Professions Australia
- Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
- Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association
- Australian Medical Association - Council of Rural Doctors
- Australian Rural Health Education Network
- Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives
- Federation of Rural Australian Medical Educators
- Indigenous Allied Health Australia
- National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association
- National Rural Health Alliance
- National Rural Health Student Network
- Pharmaceutical Society of Australia
- Royal Australian College of General Practitioners - Rural Faculty
- Rural Doctors Association of Australia
- Rural Health Advisor - Dr Paul Mara
- Rural Health Workforce Australia
- Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health
- Australian Dental Association