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In this edition:
  • A few words on the 10-year Health Plan - Primary Health and Preventative Health consultations
  • Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission Roadmap released for public consultation
  • 12th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium Website Launch
  • Other News
Message from the CEO

As the consultations around the government’s 10-year health plan continue, and in particular the Primary Health and Preventative Health plans, it’s important that the many critical roles that allied health professionals play in primary health care settings become more prominent on the government’s radar. There are a number of hurdles to jump, however. Workforce and activity data relating to allied health services in the primary health care setting is scant. Unfortunately, the absence of data is too often perceived as an absence of service – or at least ignorance of it. Even where they exist, workforce distribution reports only tell part of the story; they don’t inform us about what settings allied health professionals work in; professional association membership data will only tell us about their members; and there are so few MBS items for allied health services (outside mental health) that this data provides only a limited view of the primary health setting and tells us nothing of unmet need. Other sources include NDIS data, private health insurance rebate data and workers compensation data, all of which is held by government agencies and might be accessed if a coordinated effort was mounted to collate this information. This information is critical in order to develop a well-informed Primary Health and Preventative Health strategy.
So often in Australia, primary healthcare is equated with General Practice, without consideration of allied health professionals as primary contact clinicians in their own right. When I worked in my own business, my clients really valued the fact that they could come directly to me for their musculoskeletal complaints without having to see their GP first, saving them hours of sitting in a doctor’s waiting room and any gap payment they incurred. Where I determined that further investigations and/or input from their GP was required, I picked up the phone and spoke directly to the doctor, often making an appointment on behalf of the patient on the spot. 
Such models of care have been evaluated and shown to be effective in emergency departments where physiotherapists undertake the initial assessment of presenting musculoskeletal injuries, freeing up doctors’ time to manage critically ill patients.  Surely this is an essential element of an effective primary healthcare system also? In primary healthcare settings such accessibility is only available to the privately insured and those who can afford to pay. Without better access to allied health services through the Medical Benefits Scheme, those living with chronic disease must seek support from the public health system, often when the condition has worsened, contributing to ever increasing rates of avoidable hospital admissions. 
And as if the sector didn’t face enough challenges through lack of data, limited access to MBS items and a poor understanding of the valuable role primary health care AHPs play in managing chronic conditions, consider also situations where the specialist skills and capability of allied health professionals are overlooked, inadvertently or otherwise, while expanding other roles to take on precisely those areas of allied health expertise. As you read this, rural Primary Health Networks are applying for grants to establish “movement disorder nurse specialist” roles to improve access to “nurse-led” models of care in the community for people living with neurological conditions. While it may be unintended, this is a prime example of allied health professionals being excluded from employment opportunities in rural Australia. The lack of such funded opportunities is a major  factor contributing to the critical shortage of allied health professionals in rural and remote Australia. Given that nurses with these specialist skills are unlikely to exist in the targeted rural communities, one could anticipate that much of the available funding will be spent on training up generalist nurses to take on these roles. The alternative is to employ allied health professionals who come already equipped with the skills necessary to develop effective models of care for the target client population. These same professionals could also potentially expand access to vital allied health services for others in the community. But the grant guidelines do not allow for this. One can only assume that if government policy and program officers had access to good data on allied health in primary care, decisions on funding for and development of effective primary care services might be informed by existing workforce skills and capacity and be much better targeted.
For all these reasons I encourage you all to seek opportunities to have your say in the Primary Health and Preventative Health consultations. Stay tuned and we will let you know when public consultations are occurring.

Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission Roadmap released for public consultation

The Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission has released the draft Roadmap for public consultation. The consultation will present the Australian public with an opportunity to assess the draft Roadmap, and offer feedback on the current strategy. The Roadmap and public consultation portal can be found here:

If you would like to contribute to a submission by SARRAH please message us to our inbox. We will hold a zoom meeting in the near future for interested parties.  Please visit our noticeboard for further information.

12th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium Website Launch

The Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association, are delighted to announce the launch of the 12th annual Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium. The 2020 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium focuses on advancing mental health care for rural and remote communities, with a vision to overcome the challenges of mental health accessibility. The symposium will be held from Monday 26 October - Wednesday 28 October 2020 at The National Convention Centre Canberra. For more information visit their website:

Other News

Department of Health Secretary Retirement and Changes
Ms Glenys Beauchamp PSM has decided to retire from her position as the Secretary of the Department of Health, with effect from 28 February 2020. The Prime Minister has recommended to the Governor-General that current Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy be appointed new Secretary of the Department of Health.

Coalition of Peaks on Closing the Gap Meeting with PM
On Thursday 23 January, the Prime Minister hosted a meeting with senior representatives of the Coalition of Peaks, a representative body made up of almost 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled peak organisations to discuss the new Closing the Gap priorities. These priorities aim to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The meeting follows the signing of the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in March 2019, which saw the Coalition of Peaks bringing their communities' wishes to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on what the new Closing the Gap priorities should focus on over the next decade.

The Henry Review - Review of Health Services for Children, Young People and Families within the NSW System
NSW Health has publicly released the Henry Review into paediatric services across regional, rural and metropolitan NSW. Emeritus Professor Richard Henry AM conducted the review, which focuses on the delivery of health services to children, young people and families within the NSW Health system and the sufficiency of current governance arrangements to ensure safe, effective and high quality care across NSW. Seventy-seven recommendations have been identified including numerous recommendations acknowledging the need for investment and funding of allied health professionals into regional areas. Particular emphasis was placed on the limited availability of allied health services in regional areas and a need for an increase in allied health professionals addressing mental health issues.

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
Allied Health Team Leader - Allied Health Western, Allied Health Division, Location negotiable, Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service. Are you a conscientious and caring Allied Health Team Leader who can provide leadership and direction to the Allied Health team, Western?

Physiotherapist - Rural Workforce Agency Norther Territory (RWA NT) are partnering with Alice Springs Physiotherapy and Sports injury Clinic to find a Physiotherapist to join their multi-disciplinary team. Alice Springs Physiotherapy and Sports injury Clinic was established in 1994 and has continued to develop and provide excellence in Physiotherapy services and other Health Services to the population of Alice Springs and surrounding areas.

Upcoming Events and conferences


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

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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