Indigenous health and wellbeing

Health and wellbeing promotion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and cultural impacts on health.

Alliance backs COAG call out on Closing the Gap

Thursday, 22 November 2018
Closing the Gap

The National Rural Health Alliance – the peak advocacy body representing the health needs of 7 million Australians – is joining the 13 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies that have written to Council of Australian Governments (COAG) First Ministers seeking a full partnership approach between Indigenous people and governments to refresh the Closing the Gap strategy.

The partnership and a call to refresh the Closing the Gap process, will be put to COAG for consideration in Adelaide on 12 December, but they are being proposed without the full engagement and endorsement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak more in the media release

The disproportionate burden of heart disease in rural and remote Australia

Friday, 20 October 2017
map of australia showing all heart admissions by region

New data released from the Heart Foundation shows that deaths from heart disease are 60% higher in rural and remote areas of Australia, compared to metropolitan areas. Hospitalisations due to heart attack are double the metropolitan rates and hospitalisations due to heart failure are 90% higher.

The data, released in the form of an updated online interactive map, clearly illustrates that heart disease risk factors – specifically smoking and obesity – are more prevalent in disadvantaged, rural and remote areas of the country.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience heart disease rates that are 70% higher than in non-Indigenous Australians and experience double the rate of hospitalisations due to heart attack and heart failure.

The higher rates of heart disease in rural and remote communities are the result of many compounding issues. Rural areas have fewer health professionals, reduced health infrastructure and higher costs of health care delivery.

Compared to metropolitan areas, people in living in rural and remote locations tend to have lower incomes, and lower levels of education and employment.

Rural and remote populations also have difficulty accessing affordable healthy food.  This food insecurity is closely linked to obesity – a major heart disease risk factor.

To address the health deficit experienced by people living in remote and rural areas, the National Rural Health Alliance has called for the urgent development of a bipartisan, cross-jurisdictional new National Rural Health Strategy which is supported by robust health access standards.

Partyline #60, September 2017 is out now

Monday, 2 October 2017

Affordable, acceptable and appropriate access to health services for country people was the central theme to emerge at the recent annual gathering of the Council of the National Rural Health Alliance. In his editorial in this issue of Partyline the Alliance’s Interim CEO Mark Diamond outlines the outcomes of this major meeting.

We learn about roving podiatrist, Sara Coombes, whose foot care services for diabetic patients living in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory are reducing the risks of infection, complications and amputation.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service outlines how corporate partnerships are bringing new income streams and enabling it to expand services, while also bringing value to the corporate partners.

Articles from the Rural Doctors’ Association of Australia and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners both refer to the imminent appointment of a National Rural Health Commissioner and the implementation of a national Rural Generalist Pathway. The RDAA argues that it will be critical for the Commissioner to work actively for strategies that deliver more of all types of health practitioners to rural and remote Australia. The RACGP has released a position statement on rural generalism that sets out the parameters to be considered in determining the Rural Generalist Pathway.

From country kid to rural doctor? Since 2000, more than 2,000 medical students with a rural background have graduated from university with support from the Rural Australia Medical Undergraduate Scholarship (RAMUS) Scheme. A research project has investigated whether the Scheme has impacted on the doctor shortage in rural and remote Australia.

This Partyline also reports on medical student volunteers taking part in an immersion program in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Lands in which they learn about community life and culture and deliver an interactive and fund holiday program for the local children.

NBN Co reports on its new wholesale plans for the Sky Muster satellite service which should deliver better value broadband to homes and businesses in rural and remote Australia.

We congratulate the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet which this month is celebrating 20 years of bringing evidence-based knowledge and information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health to the health sector.

Coming up in October is Anti-Poverty Week, an opportunity to speak out about causes and consequences of poverty in rural and remote Australia. And in November there will be a workshop to contribute to developing and action plan to guide equity of access and outcomes for older people in regional, rural and remote Australia.

For these stories and more, visit

Partyline edition 59 - out now!

Monday, 19 June 2017
Partline screen shots

Partyline #59, June 2017 is out now at

The biennial National Rural Health Conference is the largest and most influential event on the rural and remote health calendar in Australia. The 2017 Conference held in Cairns in late April lived up to this reputation and in this issue of Partyline we are pleased to bring you some of the highlights.

In his editorial, Alliance CEO David Butt focuses on one of the key recommendations to come from the Conference – the call for a dedicated national rural health strategy and associated implementation plan. The Alliance will be looking to work with all Governments and other stakeholders to bring about this long-overdue strategy.

You’ll also find: a pictorial essay on the Conference arts and health program; an overview of the wide-ranging research projects covered in the poster presentations; the winners of the Friends of the Alliance Photo and Poetry Competitions; an article on Wuchopperen Health Service which, together with Elders from local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, provided a Culture, Healing and History space at the Conference; and the presentation of the Friends Unsung Hero Award to the Pusmucans/Lawrence family.

The first year of life is crucial to a child’s social and emotional development. The National Health and Medical Research Council has analysed the evidence on programs and services delivered during pregnancy or the first year of life that may influence infant social and emotional development and wellbeing. In other articles focusing on children’s health, Sarah Moeller describes how the Earbus and Starlight Foundations are working together to reduce the incidence of otitis media in Aboriginal children living in remote Western Australia; and Lindsay Cane discusses a coordinated approach from schools and allied health professionals to support children with conditions of emotional dysregulation or developmental delays.

Following the tragic death of Remote Area Nurse colleague Gayle Woodford in March 2016, there has been a drive to improve the safety and security of the remote health workforce. CRANAplus has just released safety guidelines for the remote health workforce which provide a structured pathway to identify risks and prioritise areas for improvement.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network outlines concerns about telecommunications issues in regional, rural and remote Australia and the need for guaranteed access to voice and internet services in rural areas.

Three articles tackle issues relating to drugs and alcohol: Allan Murphy from the Drug and Alcohol Foundation describes the Local Drug Action Team program supporting community organisations to find local solutions; ‘Getting the facts about ice’ covers the Cracks in the Ice Online Community Toolkit providing trusted, evidence-based information and resources about ice for the community; and Jenny Beach discusses the expansion of alcohol and drugs outreach services in Western New South Wales.

Other articles cover: support for primary eye care in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services; the benefits and challenges of point of care pathology testing in remote areas; the national strategy that is improving access to pain services; and a trial of GP video consultations in residential aged care.

We also congratulate award winners Tim Duffy, optometrist from Gunnedah; and James Fitzpatrick, paediatrician and researcher from Western Australia.

For these stories and many more, visit