20 years of friendship

  • Friends Of the Alliance logo over image of dog and sunset
    Photo: Rhianna O’Brien, finalist in Friends 2019 Photo and Poetry Competition.
National Rural Health Alliance
Leanne Coleman,
Manager, Friends
of the Alliance

Established in 1999, Friends of the Alliance is a network of people and organisations that have supported the objectives of the National Rural Health Alliance.

Over the past 20 years the Friends network continued to strengthen and develop its membership base connecting people and organisations committed to good health and wellbeing for those in rural and remote Australia.

The Alliance values the input from Friends which provides valuable grassroots connections validating the Alliance’s policy work and extending the reach of the Alliance’s health promotion and advocacy work.

There are many benefits for individuals and organisations to join Friends and we’d love you to consider joining us.  Friends make regular contributions to the Alliance’s quarterly magazine, Partyline, they receive complimentary subscription to the Australian Journal of Rural Health, and also receive a discounted registration to the biennial National Rural Health Conferences.

There is an annual fee for individual and organisational membership, but it is free for health consumers and carers.  You can find more information on our website at:  www.ruralhealth.org.au/friends

Here’s what some of our members have to say about Friends:

“One of the important transitions of my life has been that of moving from "practitioner" to "friend".  During the years when I represented a member organisation, Friends of the Alliance was always a constant reminder not only of the breadth of the network but also of the extent of the support for the advocacy of the Alliance. Across the disciplines and the miles, the tangible expression of commitment to the health of the people of rural and remote Australia was expressed not only through the members of the Alliance themselves, but also through the "friends" on whose wholehearted support we could rely.

Today, city office based, through my membership of Friends of the Alliance I can, at least in some small way, add my support to the work of the Alliance and continue to express a commitment to those challenged by distance.

Friends of the Alliance brings together so many people with a heart for remote health. It is both an opportunity and a challenge - and enormously valuable.”

Rosemary Young
Life Member of Friends of the Alliance

“I suggested Friend of the Alliance as a way for individuals with a passion or fire in the belly about rural health to become involved.  The rural health movement has lasted so long and been so influential because it has been able to meaningfully engage with all levels and places across a diverse and sweeping land.  Hugs”

Michael Bishop
Chief Executive Officer, Central Highlands Healthcare
Father of Friends

"I became a member of Friends in 2000 following the formation of Friends of NRHA. I saw membership of Friends as a direct connection to the NRHA extending the voice of the Alliance, bringing additional eyes and ears to health awareness, policy & planning for rural communities.  Coming from WA I remember clearly my first meeting with the NRHA Council. I was booked to fly to Canberra on Ansett Airlines, the date happed to be the day after the Airline went into administration and it was also two days following the Twin Towers bombing in New York, all pretty scary!! but thanks to some hard work by Alliance staff they managed to get me a alternative flight to Canberra.  There commencing my term as Chair of Friends of the National Rural Health Alliance. A position if held until 2008. The greatest advantage/value I see of Friends membership is a representative from each State and Territory of Australia.   

I became Chair of Friends in 2002 & I went on to be an elected member of the Alliance board, I was appointed as the Alliance representative on the newly formed National Rural Women’s Alliance (NRWC), going on to be chair for six years of NRWC spreading the Alliance voice to an even far wider audience.

My membership of Friends over the years gave me and others the ability to have input and consultation on many key issues that are so critical for the direction and delivery of rural health then and still today. Friends bring a broader network of membership for the Alliance, and a greater opportunity for consumers to participate and guide health representing rural Australia. Friends are a vital component of the NRHA structure creating opportunities for a wider consultation network from a national perspective."

Irene Mills AM
Dalwallinu, WA

“Friends of the Alliance is just that, a networking, sharing, supportive alliance of rural health professionals, keeps us in touch with each other and rural issues.”

Leonie McLaughlin RN RM
Remote Clinical Educator, CRANAplus

“Being a Friend of the Alliance is being part of a big family where members are driven by optimising equity of access to quality health services, food choices and other issues that impact on rural and remote health outcomes. As such the Alliance needs Friends as change agents and Friends need the Alliance to facilitate the needed change through systems thinking, political leverage and other means. There are unique opportunities to pilot innovative projects in rural areas that could have implications for how future health care is delivered in general.”

Professor Adrian Schoo, Fellow of ANZAHPE
Prideaux Centre for Research in Health Professions Education

College of Medicine and Public Health | Flinders University

The current Friends Advisory Committee (FAC) continues to meet regularly and their current priorities are climate and health, and digital health.  

The Friends Advisory Committee considers climate change central to everything, and not just in the health sector, but in agriculture and environment as well.  Friends is currently planning an environmental scan and investigating ways to build community networks to connect people and come up with solutions to similar issues.

Wagga Wagga Council on climate change:  https://wagga.nsw.gov.au/city-of-wagga-wagga/environment/sustainability/climate-change

Moira Shire Council’s Heatwave Plan:  https://www.moira.vic.gov.au/Community/Emergency-Management/Heatwave

“The effect of climate change on rural communities is a key issue for the Friends Advisory Committee. They are exploring ways to capture information about its local impacts and how community networks can connect people facing similar issues with possible solutions. Friends itself offers a wide community network through which to share ideas and from which greater connectivity can be developed.”         

Rachel Yates, Chair, Friend Advisory Committee

If you or your organisation would like to share a story, case study or example of how your community is addressing heat, drought, fire, or water please email details to [email protected] and we will endeavour to create a place for this information to be shared.

Join Friends now:  if you would like to be part of this important rural health network join now:  www.ruralhealth.org.au/friends

Information about the theme and publishing dates for the 2020 issues of Partyline will be available soon.

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