Preliminary Program

The theme for the 13th Conference is People, Places, Possibilities...

People, Places, Possibilities…

Welcome to the next version of the Program for the 13th National Rural Health Conference.  We will progressively update this page as content is firmed up.

The main news is that ad ditional keynote speakers have been locked in, and the focus of a number of the Concurrent Sessions can be confirmed.


Keynote Speakers

  • Carole Reeve, public health expert at the Centre for Remote Health, Alice Springs;
  • Rob Knowles, Commissioner, National Mental Health Commission;
  • Ian Wronski, Division of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University;
  • Mark Wenitong, Senior Medical Officer at Apunipima Cape York Health Council;
  • Alan Cass, Director of the Menzies School of Health Research; and
  • Megan Davis, Director of the Indigenous Law Centre at the University of New South Wales.

Concurrent session themes

Following review and ranking of more than 400 abstracts, the Conference Program Committee is now busily preparing a program for the five concurrent sessions.

All those who submitted an abstract will hear whether or not they have a place on the program at the end of January.  Most concurrent sessions will consist of four papers of 20 min each, and the topics will include:

  • Healthy rural ageing
  • Responding to natural disasters
  • Community capacity for healthy lifestyles
  • Broadband for the Bush
  • Paediatric disability in the remote context
  • Quality use of medicines
  • Heart health
  • High performing services
  • Overcoming workforce shortages
  • Nurse practitioners in the primary care team
  • 'Food deserts'

The themes for other concurrent sessions will be determined in the coming weeks. 



  • Overcoming some of the challenges of remoteness
  • 'Boys Behaving Badly'
  • Smarter, safer homes
  • Practical applications of telehealth
  • Birthing services and babies
  • Alcohol and other drugs
  • Personality traits and rural practice
  • The experience of rural youth
  • Engaging with vulnerable people
  • Rural hospitals


Pre-Conference events

There are several pre-Conference events (some on Saturday 23rd, and some on Sunday 24th) prior to the opening of the Conference at 4pm on the Sunday. Highlights will include a bus tour to Nauiyu Nambiyu Community on the Saturday, and a workshop being jointly organised by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA), the National Health Performance Authority (NHPA) and the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) with the provisional title, 'Primary Health Networks: finding the evidence, proving performance'.

The pre-Conference events page contains details of the various pre-Conference events and information will be added as it becomes available.  Registration for all pre-Conference events will open soon.

Here are some other things you can look forward to in Darwin.

Sunday 24 May 2015 - Opening session

Presented by Larrakia Nation and the National Rural Health Alliance, with Conference MC and radio personality Charlie King, other highlights include Shellie Morris, renowned singer, yarning circle proponent and NT Australian of the Year. 

Hear opening remarks from the Hon Fiona Nash, Federal Assistant Minister for Health, and the Hon Adam Giles, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory (or their representatives).  

Follow public health practitioner Carol Reeve on a notional journey from the Sydney GPO to Gove as she maps the increasing challenges for health service delivery.  

Enjoy the sounds of Darwin Rondalla, Filipino string band, at the Welcome Reception. 

Monday 25 May 2015 - The People of remote and rural health

Keynote speakers will discuss the right of all people to self-determination and to good health and wellbeing, including those who live with the challenges of cultural alienation and disability.

The Arts and Health program will reflect many of the cultures and backgrounds of the people of rural and remote Australia, including people with a refugee background who are associated with the Melaleuca Refugee Centre. CemeNTstars will present a playful look at the day-to-day difficulties of communication faced by people living with a disability.

Join the many people of rural and remote Australia at the famous Conference Dinner. 

Tuesday 26 May 2015 - Rural and remote Australia - a strong Place to be

Hear from panelists, including Amanda Vanstone, Chair of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Lindsay Cane, CEO of Royal Far West, and Bronte Martin from the National Clinical Care and Trauma Response Centre, about health services that reach out to some of the extraordinary places of rural and remote Australia.  

Peter McDonald, founder of Australian Doctors International, and special guests from PNG and other neighbouring countries will consider how health services  can be provided despite serious infrastructure, workforce and service deficits.  

Discover a treasure at the Pop-up Marketplace featuring crafters and artists selling their handmade creations in the breaks.

Celebrate rural and remote places at the Exhibitors' Evening.

Wednesday 27 May 2015 - The future Possibilities for remote and rural Australia

Julian Disney, Director of the Social Justice Project at the University of NSW, will examine possibilities for the re-distribution of Australia's population to support social justice and wellbeing. Bronwyn Pike from Telstra Health will describe some integrated remote health services that are becoming reality.  And the possibilities for health through the arts are endless - for all ages.  Learn to Swing Dance to 1940s Big Band Music, recharge your batteries with the Grey Panthers seniors dancing troupe, and visit the Child Australia Out-of-School Hours Service in a community where creativity is part of children's lives.

Over the 3.5 days

There will be five concurrent sessions covering topics such as eye health, eHealth, healthy ageing, our Asian neighbours, mental health, climate change, men's health, the social determinants of health, and chronic conditions.  Posters are on display in the Exhibition Hall.

The Sharing Shed will again provide a unique way for delegates to contribute to the priority recommendations for presentation to Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments.