Ru­ral health a pri­or­ity

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

Suc­cess­ful can­di­dates must make ru­ral health a pri­or­ity in the next fed­eral par­lia­ment. With Elec­tion 2013 draw­ing to a close, the Ru­ral Doc­tors As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia urges those ru­ral can­di­dates who are elected on polling day to make ru­ral health­care a top pri­or­ity in the next fed­eral par­lia­ment. It is es­sen­tial that ru­ral politi­cians cham­pion the needs of ru­ral Aus­tralia, and drive poli­cies that will de­liver a sus­tain­able ru­ral health sec­tor and ru­ral doc­tor work­force into the fu­ture. We need more doc­tors in the bush. Im­por­tantly, we need th­ese doc­tors to have the train­ing, ad­vanced skills and sup­ports to en­able them to de­liver the wide range of com­plex care that is al­ways needed by ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. To achieve this, a com­mit­ment to longer-term plan­ning and in­vest­ment in the ru­ral health sec­tor is needed by the in­com­ing govern­ment. It re­quires tar­geted in­cen­tives that en­cour­age doc­tors to re­lo­cate and stay in the ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties that need them most. It re­quires a sys­tem that bet­ter recog­nises and sup­ports the work that ru­ral doc­tors do. It re­quires a sys­tem that iden­ti­fies and men­tors med­i­cal stu­dents and ju­nior doc­tors who are in­ter­ested in ru­ral prac­tice, and shows them that a vi­brant fu­ture is avail­able to them there. And it re­quires strate­gies to bet­ter sup­port the over­seas trained doc­tors who make up a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of the ru­ral med­i­cal work­force. While La­bor and the Coali­tion have made some an­nounce­ments dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign to sup­port the ru­ral health sec­tor - and th­ese have been wel­comed - nei­ther has com­mit­ted to any sig­nif­i­cant ad­di­tional in­vest­ments or a longer-term strate­gic plan to im­prove ac­cess to lo­cal health­care for ru­ral Aus­tralians. In­vest­ing in ru­ral health should be as im­por­tant as the other ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture projects that have been the sub­ject of elec­tion com­mit­ments. Like any sound in­vest­ment, it will pro­vide value for money and eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits for the na­tion as a whole. RDAA calls on ev­ery in­com­ing ru­ral politi­cian to read our elec­tion plat­form at www.rdaa.com.au (go to Quick Links), con­sider how your ru­ral elec­torate would ben­e­fit from the ini­tia­tives we have put for­ward, and be an ac­tive ad­vo­cate for ru­ral health­care in the next fed­eral par­lia­ment.

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