Australia’s pre-eminent event for everyone committed to better health and wellbeing in rural and remote communities.


The 14th National Rural Health Conference will be held at the Cairns Convention Centre, in tropical north Queensland, Australia from 26 to 29 April 2017.  The 14th Conference is part of 'A World of Rural Health' that also includes the 14th World Rural Health Conference.  The 14th Conference is, in effect, the first half of 'A World of Rural Health'.

The biennial event has a unique reputation as a meeting place for people involved with the health care of people who live in the diverse communities of rural and remote Australia.

There has been huge interest in the Conference with more than 500 abstracts received. This has resulted in a Conference Program that will include 49 concurrent sessions containing presentations of selected contemporary reports on health status in rural areas and on a wide range of approaches to the well-known challenges that exist. The presentation of research reports and community case studies is mixed with networking opportunities, various arts and health presentations, and 65 exhibitors showcasing their services related to rural and remote wellbeing.

Whatever your involvement with healthy, sustainable and resilient rural communities, this Conference will be of interest to you. It provides a unique opportunity for consumers and clinicians from rural and remote areas to exchange views with the many who work with and for country people but are based in major cities and regional centres.  More than 900 delegates have registered so far so don't miss this opportunity to join them.

Keynote Speakers

There will be more than 20 keynote speakers discussing their views on the health of people in rural and remote Australia. The following speakers have been confirmed and a detailed program is now available. 

  • Sr Anne Gardiner, 2017 Senior Australian of the Year
  • Marcia Langton, Chair, Australian indigenous Studies, University of Melbourne
  • Allan Fels, Chair, National Mental Health Commission
  • Mick Reid, Deputy Chair, Royal Flying doctor Service
  • Gracelyn Smallwood, Doctor of Philosophy, Central Queensland University
  • Anne Kelso, Chief Executive Officer, National Health and Medical Research Council
  • Kelly McJannet, Chief Executive Officer, Food Ladder
  • Jonathan Sher, Consultant on preconception health, education and care, Scotland
  • Mark Wenitong, Medical Director, Apunipima
  • David Gillespie, Assistant Minister for Health
  • Janine Mohamed, Chief Executive Officer, Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives
  • Catherine King, Shadow Health Minister
  • Trent Twomey, Chair, North Queensland PHN

The 14th World Rural Health Conference will be held Cairns immediately after the 14th National Rural Health Conference.  For information go to  

For further information contact the Conference team on 02 6285 4660 or


Conference MC

Catherine McGrath
Catherine McGrath - MC for the 14th National Rural Health Conference

The Conference Advisory Committee is pleased to announce that Catherine McGrath will take on the important role of Conference MC.

Catherine is one of the country’s leading TV political and international reporters who is now a full time strategic media consultant, public speaker, MC and media trainer.

She covered federal politics for two decades for ABC and SBS TV in roles including Chief Political Correspondent and Bureau Chief. She was earlier ABC Asia Editor and ABC South East Asia Correspondent.

In 2001 Catherine was awarded the Centenary of Federation Medal for Services to Society through Journalism.

“Hi I am Catherine McGrath and I am thrilled to be confirmed as the MC for the 14th Conference. 7 million people live and work in rural and remote Australia and they rely on the brilliant, dedicated medical and allied health professionals who work tirelessly on their behalf in the clinics, hospitals and nurse stations that are spread throughout Australia. I am very excited to be in a position to help delegates share insights, research, planning and training methods leading to better health outcomes for all.”

Pre-conference workshops

The following pre-conference events will be held prior to the official opening session at 4pm on Wednesday, 26 April 2017.

Details can be found on the Pre-conference events page and you can register for these events as part of your main Conference registration.