'Strong, sustainable' health system benefits rural, regional Australia

28 August, 2014

The Australian Government is determined to improve access to health services for people living in rural and remote areas, saying it 'understands the challenges they face'.

In a statement (27 August), Assistant Minister for Health, Fiona Nash asserted: "Unlike Labor, the Coalition Government is taking the steps necessary to make Australia's health system effective and sustainable.
"The best way to undermine Australia's health system and to hurt rural and regional Australia is to continue to do nothing, which is precisely what Bill Shorten, Stephen Jones and Labor propose," Nash said.
"Their plan is to wait until the health budget blows out to a point where Medicare is at risk of collapsing under its own weight. That is not how this Government works or thinks.
"The Coalition Government is committed to improving access to health services for the more than one third of Australians who live outside of metropolitan areas."
Government investment includes:

  • $40 million over 4 years to create additional intern training capacity in private hospitals and regional and rural areas. 76 interns are already training in 2014.
  • $13.4 million to provide 500 additional scholarships for nursing and allied health professionals; targeted at rural professionals
  • $238 million over four years to double the Practice Incentive Payment for teaching in general practices
  • $52.5 million for infrastructure grants to build on the teaching and supervision of the rural and regional medical workforce

An additional $6 million has also been committed to help the Royal Flying Doctor Service meet existing levels of demand for aeromedical services in rural and remote locations.
Over the next three years, the Government will invest $3.1 billion in Indigenous specific health programmes and activities, which is an increase of over $500 million compared to 2009-10 to 2012-13.
This includes an expansion of programmes that are targeting our most vulnerable populations, such as Indigenous mothers and babies.

"Through the Better Start to Life approach which will see an expansion of child and maternal health programmes, building on what we know works," Nash said.
"Labor didn't help the regional Australia in government, and now in opposition all they want to do is to scaremonger and create panic. Rural Australians deserve more. Rural Australians deserve a budget that is under control and they deserve affordable and world class health care services.
"This is what the Coalition Government is working for every single day," Nash said.