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Message from the CEO

Earlier this week Australia’s parliamentarians showed real leadership. They did it by acknowledging the limited success governments had been able to achieve, and in recognising that other leaders, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, must be engaged and share authority to overcome Australia’s most enduring inequality.    
The intent of Closing the Gap has always been good. Events around the 2020 Report to Parliament signalled a crucial shift and offered the promise that from now on processes, policies and programs will better match the intent: and that Indigenous leadership would be at the heart of it. 
Parliamentary leaders agreed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must be involved in leading, designing and delivering services to meet their needs, support their aspirations and draw on the strengths of communities and culture to deliver real and lasting improvements.
There are organisations that are actively closing the gap, such as:
  • Aboriginal community controlled health organisations – which make  immense differences to Indigenous peoples’ health and wellbeing, often where no other health care provider could or has been able to meet the need; and
  • Indigenous Allied Health Australia, the national Indigenous-led peak allied health body, whose energy and innovation has delivered a major increases in the size, capacity and success of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce: a workforce in huge demand and must continue to grow.
These successes are important and should be acknowledged. They provide the evidence of what can be achieved and the case for long-term, resolute investment in strengths-based Indigenous-led approaches.   We should celebrate the success, without in any way masking the challenges of why such approaches must be invested in to flourish and help address generations of entrenched disadvantage.
Governments, through COAG, working with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Council of Peaks have the opportunity to reset the trajectory.  We can’t be complacent about the impacts of disadvantage and the urgent need to address it.
The 2020 Closing the Gap Report shows the “age standardised mortality rates” for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people improved. That’s good news, but life expectancy for the total population increased at least as much, so the gap in life expectancy remained essentially the same – at around eight years. The reality of it should be confronting. It means every Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person on average gets to spend 3,000 fewer days with their families. If we look at it another way, if the three per cent of Australians who are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander could enjoy the same average life expectancy as other Australians, it would increase our nation’s total life expectancy by two to three months. That puts the extent of the disparity, and the loss we should recognise as a nation, into perspective.  
SARRAH is about improving access to reliable, affordable, culturally safe and responsive allied health services in rural and remote communities. If you live in rural or remote Australia your chances of accessing allied health services if and when you need them are much worse than for other Australians. That can lead to many things, including illness and chronic disease, avoidable hospitalisations, missed diagnoses, and premature loss of mobility and function. If you are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, your chances are even worse.
SARRAH commends the renewed commitment to Close the Gap, and the essential partnership that must include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.

Have a great weekend,

Research Study on Allied Health in Palliative Aged Care

The ELDAC (End of Life Directions for Aged Care) team at Flinders University have developed an online survey and study looking at the role of allied health professionals providing palliative care for older Australians in residential and community aged care. The survey will provide valuable information that could help optimise the care provided to people in residential and community aged care. If you are an allied health professional and would like to participate, please click here to begin. The survey takes about 10-20 minutes to complete. if you have any questions, please contact Dr Kelly Jones on email:

SARRAH EOI for DVA Request for Information - Rehabilitation in the Home

SARRAH is submitting a response to the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) Request for information (RFI) into the Rehabilitation in the Home (RITH) Program, and calls on members with a background in sub-acute care to help develop our response. Members wishing to contribute or receive further information can contact

Allied Health in Australia and its Role in Palliative Care - A white Paper Published by CareSearch

As part of the initial phase of the CareSearch Engagement Project, a background paper on the context of AH practice in Australia was written. Springing from this, and released this week, is a White Paper: Allied Health in Australia and its Role in Palliative Care for use by professionals, services, and Allied Health organisations. Key findings include the need to support AH with education and upskilling, funding to support their work in palliative care, and more accurate data on the use of AH services. The White Paper Report can be found here.

Other News

The Close the Gap report was released this week. Closing the Gap began in response to a call for governments to commit to achieving equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in health and life expectancy within a generation. It is the story of a collective journey - a shared commitment to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to live healthy and prosperous lives. In 2020, there is a greater focus on partnership between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. At the centre of this new way of working is local action, and a determination to make a difference and to achieve change.

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability will begin its next hearing at Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush on Tuesday 18 February. The hearing will investigate the access to and treatment of people with cognitive disability, including people with intellectual disability, autism and acquired brain injury, in the health system. The Chair Ronald Sackville AO QC said over the two week hearing, the Royal Commission will hear directly from people with cognitive disability about their experiences in the health system.

The University of Adelaide will introduce a suite of Allied Health degrees to its educational line-up in 2021, enabling students to pursue studies in Physiotherapy, Speech Pathology, or Occupational Therapy at one of Australia's leading health and medical universities.

Australia should use social prescribing according to a new report from the RACGP and the CHF. Social prescribing is the practice where GPs link patients with social services, or even social groups, in a bid to address the social determinants contributing to poor health and stave off the epidemic of loneliness and social isolation. It ranges from health and fitness programs to movie clubs and meditation. In a survey of around 140 GPs, 70 per cent said they believed referring patients to community activities, groups or services improve health outcomes, yet most said they did not have links with such services.

The ABC reported this week that children with developmental delays such as autism have become the victims of postcode discrimination, with some in poorer suburbs waiting hundreds of days for the crucial diagnosis often needed to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). An ABC investigation has exposed how a child's access to early intervention therapies under the multi-billion-dollar scheme can depend on where they live.

Researchers have found that six months of strength training (lifting weights) can help protect brain areas especially vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease up to one year later. The team, led by researchers at the University of Sydney, conducted a clinical trial for older people at high risk of Alzheimer's disease due to mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment involves a decline in memory and other thinking skills despite generally intact daily living skills, and is one of strongest risk factors for dementia. People with mild cognitive impairment are at a one-in-10 risk of developing dementia within a year.

SARRAH Webinars 2020
SARRAH is excited to announce a series of engaging webinars for March, April and May. All SARRAH members have access to free tickets to the webinar as a part of their membership perks (contact for the promo codes).

Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway - Service Outcomes and Learnings from Teams in QLD, NSW and TAS
Thursday 19 March 12pm (AEST)

The Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway is an integrated service, workforce and training initiative that has been implemented by a range of health services across Australia. The goal of implementing the pathway is to improve health outcomes for rural and remote consumers through increasing access to a highly skilled allied health workforce and enhancing opportunities for multi-disciplinary care in rural healthcare teams. This webinar will include a series of short presentations from rural generalist trainees who have recently completed a stage of the pathway in their organisation.  Trainees will discuss their experiences of the rural generalist pathway and present the outcomes of service development projects undertaken as part of their training. Further information about the Webinar can be found on this flyer.
Tickets to access this free Webinar can be found here.

The Fragile Forgotten - The Experience of Providing and Receiving Services Under the NDIS in Rural Australia
Dr Luke Wakely
Tuesday 7 April 12pm (AEST)

Dr Luke Wakely is a senior lecturer in physiotherapy at the University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health. As an APA titled paediatric physiotherapist with 20 years of clinical experience in rural Australia, he is passionate about addressing health inequity for rural communities in particular children and their families. His research focuses on the parenting of children with health issues or disability and the particular needs of rural families. Further information about the Webinar can be found on this flyer.
Tickets to access this Webinar can be found here.

The Social Determinants of Attracting, Building and Retaining a Rural/Remote Health Workforce – Findings from my 2019 Churchill Fellowship trip to Canada 
Dr Cath Cosgrave
Thursday 14 May 6:30pm (AEST)

Dr Cosgrave is a social scientist with internationally recognised expertise in rural health workforce (recruitment and retention). Her research specialisation is rural health workforce recruitment and retention of nursing and allied health professionals; sub-specialisations include early-career and health professionals from non-rural backgrounds.  In 2018, Dr Cosgrave was awarded a Churchill Fellowship, to visit rural and remote communities in Canada to investigate community-led and engaged health workforce development approaches for the psychosocial needs of newcomer health workers.  Since completing her PhD in 2016, she has been working as a research fellow at the University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health and as an independent management consultant in rural health services and workforce planning. Dr Cosgrave has developed a ‘Whole-of-Person Retention Improvement Framework’ outlining supports for improving job and life satisfaction. Dr Cosgrave has recently completed a two-year partnership project with two rural Victorian public-health services working to support improved retention of their allied health workforce; she is currently writing up the study. Further information about the webinar can be found on this flyer.
Tickets to access this Webinar can be found here.
Links for Health Professionals Supporting Health Care in Bushfire Affected Communities

Volunteering Opportunities

The Federal Government has put in place emergency protocols to expedite the process of getting GPs and allied health professionals to bushfire-affected communities where they are needed most.

The Department of Health and Department of Human Services will prioritise all applications from health professionals who want to work in bushfire-affected communities. Allied health professionals can work at a new practice for up to two weeks using their existing Medicare provider number. 

Health professionals wishing to offer support to bushfire affected areas should contact their relevant Rural Workforce Agency (RWA):

People wishing to provide supplies and assistance are advised to direct their enquiries to the relevant state government.  Financial donations are preferred at this point, as services have been overwhelmed with donated clothing and household goods.  Donations can be directed to the relevant organisation in their state:

  • The Victorian Bushfire Appeal;
  • The NSW Fire Service; or 
  • The State Emergency Relief Fund (SA)
Emerging Minds: Community Trauma Toolkit
This toolkit contains resources to help and support adults and children before, during, and after a disaster or traumatic event. It will help you understand some of the impacts of disaster and how you can help lessen these impacts.

SARRAH 2020 National Rural and Remote Allied Health Conference

The Organising Committee is delighted to present the SARRAH 2020 National Rural and Remote Allied Health Conference.

Hosted by SARRAH since 1995, this biennial conference is for all involved in regional, rural and remote allied health.

The Organising Committee invites you to Townsville

  • to hear a range of eminent speakers,
  • to join us as we share stories to shape the future success for remote, rural and regional allied health, and
  • to celebrate 25 years of SARRAH networking, advocacy and events.
We look forward to sharing our beautiful city with you in 2020.
Current Job Vacancies
There are currently no job vacancies available.

Upcoming Events and conferences


Universities Australia Conference 2020

25-27 February 2020

National Convention Centre in Canberra

MARCH 2020  

Child & Adolescent Mental Health Conference

30 March - 1 April 2020

Mantra Legends, Gold Coast

2020 New Zealand Mental Health Conference

16th - 17th March 2020

Christchurch, New Zealand

WA Rural Health Conference 2020

21- 22 March 2020

Pan Pacific Perth

MAY 2020  

SPA 2020 National Conference

24 – 27 May 2020

Darwin Convention Centre, NT

7th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium:
Shaping the future

25-26 May 2020

Alice Springs Convention Centre, NT

JUNE 2020  

Associations Forum National Conference

22-23 June 2020

Royal International Convention Centre, Brisbane

OT Exchange 2020

22-23 June 2020

Crown Promenade Melbourne

JULY 2020  

21st International Mental Health Conference

29-31 July 2020

RACV Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast, QLD

HIC 2020

27-29 July 2020

Brisbane, QLD

AUGUST 2020  

The 2020 Workplace Mental Health Symposium

31 August-1 September 2020

Hilton, Brisbane, QLD1


OCTOBER 2020  

38th CRANAplus Conference

14-16 October 2020

QT, Canberra, ACT

Copyright © 2018 Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH). All rights reserved.

Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health
Unit 4, 17 Napier Close, Deakin, ACT, 2600

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