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CEO Message

As I flew into Canberra last night I was taken aback by the extent of the ever-worsening pall of thick smoke that has been blanketing the bush capital for the past month. I am heartbroken by the knowledge that so much habitat in world heritage-listed areas has been destroyed. I ponder the health impacts brought on by this catastrophe, both mental and physical, as I seal out the smoke-filled air from the house as I walk out my door and wipe a fine layer of ash from my car every morning.  And to hear news of the loss of the lives of volunteer firefighters, who must surely have felt the effects of fatigue after weeks with no respite, is devastating and my heart goes out to their families at Christmas time.
I’ve just returned from Adelaide following a consultation session on the Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan and Preventive Health Strategy.  The session had a particular focus on rural and remote health. We heard some very sobering stories from rural consumers describing their experiences accessing scant health services while negotiating the tyranny of distance. One consumer described a long travail of interactions with the health system, articulating her extreme frustration in being treated in a patronising manner and not being afforded all the facts she needed to make an informed decision about her treatment options. It was a sobering representation of the reality of everyday life for people living in rural Australia.
To provide some context for the session, Leanne Wells, CEO of the Consumer Health Forum, delivered a report on rural consumers’ insights on primary health care and preventive health.  The results from three consumer surveys were presented.  More than a quarter of respondents reported not filling a prescription or skipping medications, or failing to follow up on recommended medical tests or treatments, frequently because of lack of affordability. More than half of all rural and remote consumers who needed medical care outside of business hours experienced difficulty in getting help outside of emergency departments.  Clearly these are concerning facts that point to the poorer health outcomes experienced by rural and remote Australians compared to their metropolitan counterparts.
There were some other interesting insights, such as that a consumer’s level of activation/participation directly correlated with their level of satisfaction and involvement in decision-making.  And that people with chronic illnesses appeared to have lower levels of activation and engagement than their healthy counterparts. Allied health professionals know this intuitively; it is expressed in our clients who don’t adhere to our recommendations around exercise and nutrition.  As Leanne pointed out, putting more effort into increasing activation among patients with chronic illness and low activation levels would pay dividends in improving their health status.  Is this not the role of the allied health professional? 
But the Primary Health Care system does not support allied health professionals to do this work. There is a significant mismatch between the level of support a consumer needs to adopt wellness behaviours and that which is funded through the Medical Benefits Schedule.  Much of the work allied health professionals currently undertake in this area is paid for through private health insurance and the workers’ compensation system.  In other words, the Australian “universal” health system does not support those who need it most.
Further public consultations on the Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan will be held in early 2020.  A discussion paper will be issued in early-2020 with the consultation period expected to run for eight weeks, and the Plan to be delivered by mid-2020. I encourage all our members to participate in this public consultation to ensure we have an accessible and equitable primary health care system that meets the needs of rural and remote Australians.
I sincerely hope you have a joyous Christmas with family and loved ones. I look forward to working with you all in 2020 for a better health system that truly supports our health and wellbeing.


Xmas Office hours

The SARRAH national office will be closed from midday 24/12/2019 and will reopen on Monday 6/1/2020

"A Rural Life" Photo Competition Winner
We would like to thank all of the people who submitted photos for our competition. What wonderful examples of a rural life we received.
The photos were judged by SARRAH national office staff and also Amelia Druhan the Chief Operating Officer of CRANAPlus who shares office space with us.
And the winner is ........... Katie Anderson, Student Paramedic.

The wellbeing of Aussie kids varies by family circumstances and where they live
Children in Australia are generally happy, healthy and safe, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). But children’s experiences and outcomes can vary depending on where they live and their families’ circumstances.  The report, Australia’s children, brings together data about children and their experiences at home, school and in their communities, along with statistics on important influences such as parental health, family support networks and household finances. The report focuses generally on children aged 0-12, spanning infancy, early childhood and primary school years. More here

Other News

Climate an all-consuming health issue - Smoke from bushfires has produced air pollution of up to 11 times the base ‘hazardous’ level in parts of Sydney and New South Wales. High levels of air pollution are expected to continue.
Making the most of the summer holidays for people living with dementia - The summer holidays are traditionally a time for families and friends to gather together but for people living with dementia, their families and carers, the time can be fun but challenging. To help make the most of the holidays, Dementia Australia has some tips to support people impacted by the disease. 
Reducing the health risks from drinking alcohol. Release of the latest Australian guidelines - The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has released newly revised guidelines on reducing health risks from drinking alcohol. The draft guidelines are open for public comment until 24 February 2020.
Update to the My Health Record statistics - The Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency) today published updated statistics showing more detailed activity on My Health Record.

Graphic showcasing number of records by state. WA 2.4 million. NT 214 thousand. QLD 4.5 million. SA 1.5 million. NSW 7.1 million. ACT 366 thousand. VIC 5.6 million. TAS 476 thousand. 506 thousand records did not have postcodes.
Occupational Therapist -  Riverland Mallee Coorong Local Health Network, Riverland Community Health Services, Berri
  • Indicative Total Remuneration: $92,017 - $106,446 - Perm F/T - AHP2
 As the AHP2 occupational therapist you will contribute to the delivery of a comprehensive and integrated range of occupational therapy services within the Riverland, Mallee, Coorong region. More information 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 External Events
eHealth@Sydney 2020
11th February, 2020
The University of Sydney
Charles Perkins Centre, Lecture Theatre
John Hopkins Dr, Camperdown NSW 2006
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
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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