#CouncilFest in Canberra: a new era for the National Rural Health Alliance

Thursday, 12 September 2019
People around tables

At the Alliance’s 28th Annual General Meeting this week in Canberra, Tanya Lehmann was re-appointed Chair of the National Rural Health Alliance.  The AGM was held as part of the Alliance’s annual face-to-face meeting known as ‘CouncilFest’.

Viney Joshi, a rural generalist from Carnarvon, WA was welcomed as a new member of the Board – Viney represents the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) on the Alliance Council.  Current Board members Stephen Gourley (Deputy Chair), Julianne Bryce (Treasurer), Nicole O’Reilly (Secretary), Dan Mahony, Peter O’Meara and Lynne Strathie continue to serve.



A full list of NRHA Board and Council Members can be found on the Alliance website at: www.ruralhealth.org.au under the ‘About us’ tab.

This week’s CouncilFest enabled its 41 member bodies to agree on a set of key priorities to take to parliamentarians in delegations on Monday, 9 September 2019.

The key priorities were:

  • Additional investment in education and training pathways for health professionals in rural Australia, from vocational through to postgraduate education.
  • A $15.4 million proposal to develop and evaluate health and community precincts/networks that provide integrated primary care using flexible funding arrangements. The aim is to bring together the health, education, aged care, disability and social services sectors to improve the health and wellbeing of rural, regional and remote communities.
  • Connectivity in rural areas is also incredibly important to health and wellbeing. The Alliance called on the Government to invest in digital health infrastructure and do more to provide high-speed internet access in rural and remote areas.

Meetings were held with over 40 parliamentarians. Through these meetings the Alliance is able to ensure that the voice of the people of rural and remote Australia is heard on current policy issues affecting their wellbeing, as well as promoting key priorities for improving health services.

The meetings in Parliament House also provide the opportunity for the Alliance to present a respected and inclusive voice for the interests of country people. The Alliance is always available to provide information and briefings on rural and remote issues to parliamentarians and organisations.

Other highlights of CouncilFest included:

  • Launch of the Alliance’s new Strategic Plan for the next three years.
  • A fascinating glimpse of space medicine from Dr Emma Tucker, medical doctor and astrophysicist at the annual dinner sponsored by HESTA.
  • Wellbeing nests: an exploration of arts therapy engaging all Council Members led by arts and health therapist Jemima Beaumont, Sacred Space Arts Therapy.
  • Planning to improve internal communications among the Alliance’s growing membership.

Read our Media Releases issued this week as part of #CouncilFest2019

Read the Communique

A poem by Phil Anderton, inspired by Sacred Space Arts TherapyPhil Anderton holding paper nest

To people whose vision is important in aged care

Think about how well I feel
When I can see your face is real
Grandad in his old folks home
Cannot walk, cannot roam
But if he can read his favourite book
In his mind we will take a look