Better together: the National Rural Health Conference, Hobart 2019

  • Welcome to country dancing
  • conference stage
  • conference audience

Welcome to Country was like no other;
By members of the Muwinina people – an incredible expression
To honour our Aboriginal leaders in health, past and present,
To shape the cultural respect that was embedded within all of the conference sessions.

A forum for rural health researchers, public health experts and clinicians,
A collaboration of the minds, a sharing of knowledge.
Bega, Shepperton, Tamworth, Tom Price, Ballarat,
Tasman Peninsula, and we came from Dubbo and Orange!

The opening night had us inspired,
As we learnt about the need for planetary health.
“Need to think globally about wellbeing, infrastructure, the environment,”
Not just on our one patient, nor just on the Commonwealth.

There was much debate about the rural health workforce,
“Workforce isn’t a cost, but an investment” – indeed!
To focus on retention of our clinicians
Is a priority; it’s a rural health care need.

The conference includes a range of talks
From R U OK? to rheumatic heart disease – ‘The current situation’.
We learnt about chronic pain; how our brain is wired as a ‘protector’
And the need for whole community pain education*.

Aboriginal health – the inequities fronting our First Peoples – was a leading concern,
With an overwhelming passion among us all to ‘close the gap’.
From ear health, to engaging with teens
What are the challenges? What works well? What are the traps?

An eye-opening session was on osteoporosis
In rural cities, is there a ‘Bermuda triangle’ in the follow-up?
Inequality; blood lead levels; mental health; yarning; a mobile operating room;
So many thought-provoking topics to swallow up

And as a junior doctor, I’d like to share with you:
One of my take-home messages is this -
How are patients expected to work with us if we don’t say “Hello, my name is”?

Politicians from all parties got on stage
To posit their socio-economic visions.
How to improve the health of our nation as a whole?
All agree PREVENTION must addressed in our Government provisions.

Ideas were discussed in a ‘Sharing Shed’
On rural health research, workforce and access.
An exhibition hall filled with reps from all over; a fancy conference dinner;
Meant lots of opportunities for networking success.

In conclusion, for rural Australia,
Addressing the social determinants of health is more important than ever.
Moving forwards with shared goals for healthcare,
We sure are “Better Together”.

* check out

Elise Kempler presented a paper on 'Obtaining consent from Aboriginal patients: a culturally sensitive approach' at the 15th National Rural Health Conference, Hobart 24-27 March 2019. She is a junior medical officer and her attendance at the Conference was sponsored by the Western NSW Regional Training Hub.


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