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Message from the CEO

SARRAH’s continued engagement with government has contributed to the lifting of restrictions on bulk-billing for MBS items for allied health professionals announced earlier this week. SARRAH commends the government for acting on our concerns for the viability of rural practices, and for continuing to engage with us and our fellow members of the Australian Allied Health Leadership Forum (AAHLF). Weekly meetings have recently been established with AAHLF and we look forward to providing insights and advice to the Department of Health about the central role allied health professionals play in every facet of health service delivery, ensuring that health system responses recognise and utilise this highly skilled section of the health workforce.

With the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, leveraging the allied health workforce is more crucial than ever to bolster overall health system capacity and reduce demand and pressure on acute health resources and staff. Coordinated planning and utilisation of AHP capacity will help maintain community health, promote recovery and contain the impact of COVID-19 on service system capacity and cost. 

As health leaders at the Commonwealth level have worked diligently to pivot the medical and nursing workforce in preparation for a surge in health service demand, by contrast there has been a distinct lack of a coordinated approach to adequately prepare the allied health workforce for the pandemic.The ability of the government to mobilise the available medical and nursing workforce has been greatly facilitated by the leadership provided by the national Chief Medical and Nursing Officers, a plethora of deputy appointments, and the existence of workforce data sets that greatly help to identify system capacity. It is in times of crisis such as these that the lack of knowledge about the role and functions of allied health is exposed, greatly impeding decision makers in their efforts to identify health system capacity.

Surely the time has come for the government to appoint a dedicated national Chief Allied Health Officer. SARRAH has long advocated for better workforce data for the allied health professions, and for leadership at a national level. Earlier this year, the National Rural Health Commissioner identified this need in his interim report, a recommendation that SARRAH has strongly supported as a means to improve rural allied health access, quality and distribution and in turn improving health outcomes for rural and remote communities and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.   

In terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Chief Allied Health Officer would greatly assist the government to:

  • Be the primary contact point and funnel for information to/from Commonwealth across relevant agencies responsible for allied health services
  • Provide advice to the Commonwealth with regard to allied health workforce capacity, roles and functions;
  • Represent allied health professionals on the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, providing advice to the Committee as decisions are being made
  • Improve communications between the Commonwealth, allied health service providers and health consumers;
  • Oversee the development of mechanisms and resources to support allied health professionals continue to provide essential services to the community during the pandemic.

While acknowledging that the Deputy Secretary of Health Systems Policy and Primary Care Group currently holds the title of Chief Allied Health Officer in addition to other responsibilities, clearly the position requires a level of technical expertise to effectively engage with the sector at times such as these.

A temporary appointment of an existing state Chief Allied Health Advisor would be an expedient way to provide the government with much-needed advice and support as COVID-19 contingencies continue to roll out. 

The time has come to recognise the need for leadership for more than 200,000 allied health professionals in this country who are ready and able to support the health system in its response to COVID-19 pandemic by appointing a Chief Allied Health Officer.

Stay well, everyone.

Cultural safety in the health workforce – no time to wait

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), the peak organisation for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health workforce, is committed to supporting the good health and social and emotional wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce, our people, families and communities, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 
IAHA stands against all forms of racism and discrimination, which have no place within the health system and Australian communities. Racism has been demonstrated to contribute to poor health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, both by actively causing harm and acting as a barrier to essential care.  
IAHA support the release of the No place for racism in healthcare statement from Ahpra and the National Boards which calls on practitioners to provide culturally safe care, free from racism. Ahpra acknowledges these issues continue to exist and cites disturbing examples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been subjected to racism and culturally unsafe care. Unfortunately, these are not isolated instances and can have particularly damaging impacts in these challenging times. Aphra’s work in this area is welcomed and extremely important. 
IAHA Chairperson, Nicole Turner said “IAHA joins Ahpra in their message to health practitioners and in condemning all forms of racism and discrimination. IAHA look forward to real change from National Boards and professions in stamping out racism and building cultural safety and responsiveness across the breadth and depth of allied health professions.” 
IAHA reinforces the message that racism will not be tolerated, whether as people being cared for or providing that care. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals are also subjected to racism, discrimination and unsafe work environments. Under no circumstances should this ever happen.  
The existing inequities in health, social and emotional wellbeing and the social determinants of health, place Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at a higher risk of adverse outcomes associated with COVID-19. IAHA, alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peer organisations, have been working with Ahpra and the National Boards to embed cultural safety within the registered professions, in order to improve access to care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This is critical in transforming health practitioner behaviours, attitudes, perspectives and assumptions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

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.
NSW Government Agency for Clinical Innovation Telehealth Capability Interest Group
Beginning 16 April the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation is introducing a free weekly Information series to assist in providing core telehealth information and support to clinicians with rapid transition of telehealth in the COVID-19 environment.

The Telehealth Capability Interest Group (TCIG) is a community of practice that aims to share telehealth initiatives and supports clinicians to increase the use of telehealth into their clinical practice. The TCIG will be delivered every Thursday from 1:00pm - 2:00pm. Each TCIG forum will provide a detailed presentation with up to 10 minutes for questions, discussion and collaboration.

This forum is designed for you and will help you:

  • share information and knowledge
  • identify common issues at a state level
  • network and build capacity
  • identify excellence and promote innovative models
  • enable uptake and usage of Telehealth Guidelines: Telehealth in Practice.
The expert panel will include Telehealth Managers, Medical, Nursing and Allied Health providers that have successfully integrated telehealth into their practice prior to COVID 19. Further information and registration can be found 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
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.
COVID-19 Information for Allied Health Professionals
The Department of Health has released a 30-minute online training
module covering the fundamentals of infection prevention and
control for COVID-19 and is intended for health care workers in
all settings. It also includes COVID-19 - What is it?, signs and symptoms, keeping safe - protecting yourself and others and mythbusting.

For up-to-date developments relating to COVID-19 visit:


Healthdirect Australia is working with the Australian Government Department of Health to provide information about COVID-19 to the public. They are sharing messaging and resources to help you provide evidence-based trusted information about COVID-19 to your community. These resources will be updated continually throughout this pandemic.

Healthdirect Australia has worked with the Department of Health to establish the Coronavirus Health Information Line (1800 020 080) to provide non-clinical information about COVID-19. Our healthdirect helpline (1800 022 222) is triaging people calling with symptoms. Both lines are receiving unprecedented call volumes, resulting in extended wait times for some callers. As part of the Australian Government’s health plan announced yesterday, we are expanding these helplines to be able to provide timely advice and support to everyone who needs it.

As an alternative to the helplines, answers to many questions are available on the healthdirect website coronavirus hub. Please direct your community to this hub as their first point of reference for reliable information about COVID-19. The healthdirect Symptom Checker provides self-guided triage to find out what to do next. A series of social media assets and videos are also available to download and use in your campaigns.

Resources to use and share:

This fact sheet relates to a temporary six-month measure for  Bulk Billed MBS Telehealth Services for doctors, nurses and mental health professionals to deliver services via telehealth, provided those services are bulk billed. The new MBS items will allow people to access essential health services in their home while they undergo self-isolation or quarantine, and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for vulnerable people in the community.

The DOH has also released a fact sheet providing guidance on the distribution of PPE such as Tranche 1, Surgical masks and P2/N95 respirators in PHNs.

We are sharing this important information with all of our Information Partners - feel free to share both within your community and externally to help people easily find reliable information about COVID-19.

Additional resources

Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Australian Government Department of Health
Coronavirus (COVID-19) daily health alerts  – Australian Government Department of Health  
COVID-19 National Health Plan – Primary Care – Bulk Billed MBS Telehealth Services – Australian Government Department of Health

Online training provided by Phoenix Training assisting healthcare professionals communicate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with hearing loss can be found here.

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).

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.

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


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.

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
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.
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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