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men's health
mental health
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NHMRC
non communicable diseases
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oral health
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out of pocket costs
pain
palliative care
paramedics
pathology
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
pharmaceutical industry
pharmacy
Pregnancy and childbirth
primary health care
Primary Health Networks
private health insurance
quality and safety of health care
rural and remote health
screening
sexual health
social media and healthcare
suicide
surgery
swine flu
telehealth
tests
TGA
trauma
women's health
youth health
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#CTG10
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Acknowledgement
cultural safety
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social and emotional wellbeing
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What do you want covered at the National Rural Health Conference? Your chance to commission a journalist…

The National Rural Health Conference has always struck me as one of the more interesting health conferences going, mainly because of its holistic approach. It tends to focus on the wellbeing of communities rather than body parts, and its program reflects a view of health that goes beyond health services.

The 11th National Rural Health Conference kicks off in Perth on Sunday, and I will be there to provide reports for Croakey readers, having managed to wrangle myself a spot on the program.

So, here’s your chance to tell a journalist what you’d like covered. Have a look at the program.

If you have an interest in a particular session, let me know and I will try to get there.

If you’ve questions you’d like put to particular presenters, let me know.

And if you’d like to find out more about any of the presenters – perhaps a mini-profile – let me know.

The program includes the usual workforce and health service issues, and also addresses Indigenous health, the arts and health, environmental issues, mental health and racism, the federal policy vacuum in oral health, palliative care, recovery from bushfires and other disasters, and has quite a few presentations around public participation.

A number of Croakey contributors are due to present, including:

• the Centre for Policy Development’s John Menadue, who will speak on the costs and benefits of reform in the rural and remote health workforce

• Curtin University’s Professor Mike Daube on public health in the bush

• The Centre for Remote Health’s Professor John Wakerman on retaining rural and remote health professionals.

I will also be running two lunchtime sessions (please come along and say hello):

• How Twitter can help rural health

• Developments in the media and their implications for rural health (including how YouCommNews, a website to enable community commissioning and funding of journalism, might be used to investigate issues of concern to rural communities).

As noted in the Crikey COI statement, the National Rural Health Alliance is meeting my travel and accommodation expenses for attending the conference.

Meanwhile, on other rural matters…

Towards the end of last year, I interviewed a number of rural doctors about their professional and personal lives for this article recently published in Australian Rural Doctor magazine (and also posted on the website of Rural Health Workforce Australia).

The article, “The Best Kept Secret”, notes that efforts to attract attention to rural health needs – whether by researchers seeking funding, or medical groups after political and policy action – often create a picture of overworked, underpaid rural doctors who are not particularly happy with their lot.

But if you dig beyond this rhetoric, the lot of doctors working outside the metropolitan centres is often not so bad. They are relatively well paid, and relatively satisfied with their lot – though of course many work long hours.

My article cites expert saying that the promotion of a “deficit” representation of rural health can work against the recruitment of health professionals to the bush, by contributing to the stereotyping of rural and remote health as problematic environments in which to work.

This seems like an issue of import beyond rural health. Perhaps services in other under-served areas, whether the metropolitan fringes or Indigenous health, might have more success in attracting scarce workforce if they put more effort into promoting the positives of such jobs.

It often strikes me that it is the under-served areas that tend to breed innovation. For another story, I recently interviewed a community services worker who had experience working in a wealthy and a disadvantaged area of Sydney. She found the working environment in the wealthy area to be far more rigid and less amenable to innovation than the poorer area. And for another recent story, a medical specialist working in western Sydney told me she preferred working there, in an under-resourced area, because “people are resourceful and innovative”.

Of course, a few anecdotes do not prove anything, but it does seem like an area worth exploring further.

Comments 7

  1. Jack says:

    I see in the program that there is a Beyondblue stream. Given that there has been a campaign in rural mental health, that to an extent has been successful at getting people talking about mental illness. Unfortunately the professional support that exists in rural areas is almost non-existent. Personally, I was over 2.5 hours drive away from the nearest psychologist who was booked straight for 4 weeks.

    It would be great to hear if anyone is looking at implementing something that came out of the Heywire forum (a rural youth forum) on that front:
    http://www.jackpiggott.com/1/post/2011/02/heywire-mental-health-proposal.html

    I will be following your coverage closely, it was a great idea to put it to twitter…

  2. Margo says:

    At a time when we have a first-ever National Male Health Policy and an updated National Women’s Health Policy, the focus on gender looks disappointing; with the exception perhaps of mental health, discussions of rural men’s health, in particular (issues, perspectives, strategies) looks particularly scarce.

    There is a presentation on mobile health services for women – but not for men? Seemed to be very little on men’s health promotion, health services access, screening, etc. (what’s happened to initiatives such as TuneUp and PitStop, which the Senate Committee on Men’s Health was so enthusiastic about?). Doesn’t look like anything on health literacy, either.

    ‘Health messages’, particularly those which suggest that individuals’ health would benefit from making certain ‘lifestyle’ (hate that word!) changes, can be a hard sell in rural Australia, but there doesn’t seem to be much on those sorts of issues.

    I hope that the presentations as a whole, and of course those valuable out-of-session networking opportunities, will provide a sense of what’s happening with ‘public health in the bush.’

    BTW, re the ‘innovation’ issue: Being resourceful and innovative with less is consistent with the findings of a recent European public sector innovation survey which found that a lack of resources, rather than an abundance of them, is a major driver of innovation, particularly in large organisations. (I hope that this doesn’t mean, however, that we should deliberately starve organisations and services of resources just to make them innovative!)

  3. Jennifer Doggett says:

    It all looks interesting but my picks would be Gavin Mooney’s session on citizens’ juries in rural areas and Deborah Russell’s on strengthening the evidence base for rural health workforce retention.

  4. Jennifer Doggett says:

    Also, I agree with your comments on innovation in rural areas. I cannot count how many times I have been at a health conference or seminar where someone from the city has got up and talked about an ‘innovative’ new program or practice they have developed only to have someone else from a rural setting stand up and patiently explain to us easily impressed urbanites how they have been doing exactly the same thing in their local area for years. The challenge is how to share the knowledge and innovation across settings so that regions can learn from each other rather than re-inventing the wheel (or the nurse practitioner, or the mobile population health unit, or the distance learning program etc).

  5. bel says:

    Looks like a great program. Would be good to report on the presentation regarding young people’s sexual health. We have the national schools survey which is fantastic but this isnt very representative those living in rural and remote regions of Australia, and this baseline information is critical for those working in remote sexual health across Australia.

  6. Rebecca Cook says:

    Yesterday Cancer Council Vic released new data about the higher melanoma rates in rural Victoria and we have just launched a campaign to raise awareness about skin cancer among farmers – http://www.sunsmart.com.au/farmers_campaign/2908

    We would like to ask any policy-makers in attendance when a national program for skin cancer prevention will be developed?

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Croakey Conference News Service 2013 – 2019
2013 conferences
Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation Forum 2013
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Closing the Credibility Gap 2013
CRANAplus Conference 2013
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Health Workforce Australia 2013
International Health Literacy Network Conference 2013
NACCHO Summit 2013
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2014 conferences
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AIDA Conference 2014
Congress Lowitja 2014
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Cultural Solutions - Healing Foundation forum 2014
Lowitja Institute Continuous Quality Improvement conference 2014
National Suicide Prevention Conference 2014
Racism and children/youth health symposium 2014
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2015 conferences
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Population Health Congress 2015
2016 conferences
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2017 conferences
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#BTH20
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#IAHAConf17
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