The Australian Department of Health's new system for classifying rural places was scrutinised by an interested audience of over one hundred at a special information session this week.
Managed by the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA), the meeting was an opportunity for interested parties to develop an understanding of how the Modified Monash model (known as MM) works and how if differs from other systems still being used to classify places by type - especially by their 'rurality'.
These include the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (Remoteness Areas) scheme (ASGC-RA), the Rural, Remote and Metropolitan Areas scheme (RRMA), and the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA).
"These aren't just of academic interest," said Gordon Gregory, CEO of the NRHA. "These are the bases on which many of the Department of Health's programs are administered, enabling the programs to determine which people or services are eligible for rural workforce incentives and scholarships, for example."
The ASGC-RA system has five categories, based on a place's distance from larger centres. The five are Major city, Inner regional, Outer regional, Remote and Very remote.
The Modified Monash system measures different things but has results similar to ASGC-RA. Basically it uses a place's population size to distinguish between small and large places in both Inner regional and Outer regional areas. This results in MM having seven categories: Major cities, large places in Inner regional areas, small places in Inner regional areas, large places in Outer regional areas, small places in Outer regional areas, Remote places, and Very remote places.
The size of a place - as well as its remoteness - has a strong effect on access to services, the range of educational and occupational choices and so much more that impacts on a person's health. MM is therefore built on a solid premise.
You can see how particular places are categorised under MM by going to the Department of Health's Modified Monash Model Locator.
The proceedings of the NRHA's information session will soon be available for viewing and listening on the NRHA website: http://www.ruralhealth.org.au/conferences/public-seminar/modified-monash
Further information: Gordon Gregory, Chief Executive Officer 02 6285 4660