$93M investment for health workforce agencies

21 February, 2017

A national network of agencies will be redesigned to deliver better health outcomes for people living in regional, rural and remote Australia.

Visiting Rural Health West in Perth today, Federal Assistant Minister for Health, Dr David Gillespie, announced the new $93 million national Rural Workforce Agency program as part of the Federal Coalition Government’s health workforce reform agenda. 

"The Australia’s Future Health Workforce Report - Doctors indicates we can expect an oversupply of 7,000 doctors in Australia by 2030. Therefore the challenge we are now confronted with is the distribution of our workforce in order to ensure all Australians have access to the medical and health services they need," Minister Gillespie said. 

The network of Rural Workforce Agencies, located in each state and territory, is involved in a range of on-the-ground activities to meet community need and health workforce demands in regional, rural and remote Australia. 

"Over the past 20 years, Australia has had some success in boosting the number of medical and health professionals in metropolitan areas and some parts of regional Australia, however our primary focus must now ensure we address the lack of doctors and allied health professionals in many other parts of regional and remote Australia. 

"Developed in consultation with these agencies, including Rural Health West here in Western Australia, the redesigned programs will build and strengthen our health workforce and support ongoing quality improvements to ensure we connect medical and health professionals with the communities who need them. 

"Access to essential primary health care, quality of access, and future planning to build a sustainable workforce will be the key tasks for the workforce agencies," Minister Gillespie said.

"The redesigned programs will begin mid-year, following a targeted grants round."

The redesign of the program is part of a suite of reforms that include the creation of a National Rural Health Commissioner, reform of medical training and distribution, and development of the rural generalist pathway to upskill GPs in regions who require a broader range of medical services.