Rural people should be able to count on accessible, comprehensive, high-quality and affordable health care, reasonably close to home. But this fundamental expectation is frequently not met.
The Alliance estimates there is a spending shortfall of $4 billion in rural health annually – that’s $4 billion in taxpayer funding that does not reach rural communities.
The lack of access to health services significantly contributes to the poorer health outcomes of rural people, including higher death rates, lower life expectancy and a greater burden of disease. Indeed, health outcomes for rural Australians have stagnated over recent years and, in some cases, are declining.
The Alliance believes the Australian Government (the Government) has a responsibility to address the commonly-felt status quo that poorer access to health care, ‘goes with the territory’ of living in a rural community.
Two rural health election priorities
The Alliance has two priorities for the 2022 federal election, which will help deepen the next Government’s commitment to rural health, expand access to healthcare services and improve health outcomes for rural Australian communities:
- A new integrated National Rural Health Strategy (NRHS) and Implementation Plan to address the enduring workforce, access and affordability issues, and to include the rural health sector in responding to climate change and in local disaster planning and emergency management.
- A different model of primary health care called Rural Area Community Controlled Health Organisations (RACCHOs) – an evidence-based policy solution to build the rural primary healthcare workforce and improve access to affordable, high-quality, culturally safe health care when and where it is needed.
The Alliance will continue to press the Government to fund and implement 30 Rural Area Community Controlled Health Organisations (RACCHOs). We don’t even need to trial RACCHOs – the model has already been validated by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). The Alliance has conducted 12 months of stakeholder consultation on RACCHOs and fully costed the proposal.