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Message from the CEO

We've been fielding calls from members this week regarding the new NDIS 2020-21 price guide involving some new interpretations on the loading applied to telehealth consultations for recipients living in remote and very remote areas.  While interpretation of the price guide appears to be contentious, the principles underpinning providers' concerns are sound:

  • Telehealth services are direct, clinical services, and if NDIS recipients living in remote and very remote locations are receiving those services in situ, then the remote loading should apply.  Further, telehealth services are an adjunct to, and not a replacement for, face-to-face services.  Telehealth services support full participation in a therapy program for those clients who would otherwise find the additional travel between home and clinic too onerous.
  • Services provided to individuals and families living in remote and very remote locations don't just happen.  Service development in these communities requires considerable investment in time and resources to build trust and rapport, and to identify eligible recipients who might otherwise fly under the radar for NDIS supports.
  • There are complexities relating to the provision of services into remote communities regardless of whether that service is provided in person or by telehealth.  These complexities include (but are not limited to) the additional time and equipment required to prepare the client to participate in the session, whether a support worker/allied health assistant is required to facilitate the session between the therapist and the client, and the additional problem-solving required to design a program of support that is relevant to the context for that client.

Without the acknowledgment of the additional costs associated with providing services to remote communities, there is little incentive for providers to focus on developing these services especially if they are likely to only break even, or worse, make a loss from the exercise.  In February SARRAH hosted a summit that brought together allied health providers from across rural and regional Australia to discuss the challenges of providing services in rural and remote locations. This is a sector that very little is known about in terms of health workforce planning, yet national health and disability programs are dependent upon to deliver care to vulnerable populations.   These providers typically operate at full capacity yet return marginal profit for their efforts, and are therefore vulnerable to even slight changes to funding mechanisms.  SARRAH is engaging with the NDIA, Dept Social Services, Dept Health and the Office of the National Rural Health Commissioner to advocate on behalf of NDIS recipients in remote areas who are so challenged in terms of access to services. 

In other news, we welcome today's news that the Office of the Rural Health Commissioner is to continue and be extended to accommodate Deputy Commissioner roles in Indigenous Health, Nursing and Allied Health.  While the details are yet to be made known, we believe that the work of the Rural Health Commissioner is critical to ensuring that all Australians have access to appropriate health care regardless of where they live.

Stay well, everyone.

Other News

The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, has written an open letter to allied health professionals expressing his gratitude for continuing to provide allied health services to the community during the COVID-19 epidemic.  You can read Professor Murphy's letter here.

The Australian Government Department of Health is conducting a survey to understand what you would find most helpful and informative as we enter the next phase of the response to the Coronavirus Pandemic. The survey is voluntary and anonymous and will not collect personally-identifying information. The survey, accessed here,  will close on 16 June and will take approximately 5 minutes to complete.

SARRAH Telehealth Community of Practice

As remote working becomes the new norm, telehealth is more popular than ever. SARRAH is ready to support allied health professionals navigate telehealth. To find further info or join our SARRAH Telehealth Community of Practice email or visit our dedicated telehealth resource page here.
SARRAH Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway
COVID-19 has fundamentally changed how we do business and highlighted how allied health can adapt to thrive. An Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway grant can support you in recruiting or retaining an early career professional to future-proof your business by capability in emerging areas like telehealth. The overarching goal of the Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway strategy (AHRGP strategy) 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. Applying is simple and will help you put the right foot forward in this new era. Visit to learn more and apply.
Current Job Vacancies
Team Leader - PATCHES Therapy Services - Northern Territory
PATCHES Therapy Services is seeking a motivated Team Leader to join and drive their Darwin-based team. PATCHES consists of a transdisciplinary team extensively supported by diagnostic services and clinical administrative staff. Services are delivered to NDIS, private and justice system participants. For more information, follow the link to our website.

Physiotherapist – Katherine Physio - Katherine
Rural Workforce Agency Northern Territory (RWA NT) are partnering with Katherine Physio to find a Physiotherapist to join their passionate Katherine based team. Katherine Physio is a community based practice who work hard to educate their patients on their condition and empower them with the tools to assist self-management. For more information visit our website.

Occupational Therapist - Top End Health Service - Darwin/Palmerston
Provision and co-ordination of clinical Occupational Therapy (OT) Services at the Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) and Palmerston Regional Hospital as well as specific leadership, supervision/mentorship and education to directly reporting staff, as well as other professionals within their own team and/or across disciplines throughout the Top End Health Service (TEHS). Advanced clinical experience in any of the following areas, Paediatrics, Hand Therapy, or Surgical. For more information visit our website.
The Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association is running a series of webinars for practitioners; visit their website for further details.

Webinar recording of "Experiences and Outcomes of Rural Generalist Trainees in QLD, NSW and TAS" now available!

On Thursday 19 March a group of Allied Health Rural Generalist trainees presented summaries of their service development projects. You can catch the recording here

Upcoming Events and conferences 

OT Exchange 2020
22-23 June 2020
Online Conference
HIC 2020
19-21 October 2020
Brisbane, QLD
21st International Mental Health Conference
12-14 November 2020
RACV Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast, QLD
Child & Adolescent Mental Health Conference
25 - 27 November 2020
Mantra Legends, Gold Coast
Associations Forum National Conference
30 November - 1 December 2020
Royal International Convention Centre, Brisbane
The 2020 Workplace Mental Health Symposium
Hilton, Brisbane, QLD1
7th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium:
Shaping the future

Alice Springs Convention Centre, NT
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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