The health of rural Australians is poorer than for individuals living in the cities and regional centres and even worse for our Indigenous populations.
How can we change that for the residents of the RAMJO area?
The major challenges facing the smaller communities in the RAMJO is maintaining basic health services and addressing the changing needs of the ageing population (e.g. supporting ageing in place) and the increased demand for mental health services both for young people and adults.
The loss of health services (such as general practitioners, dentists, allied health professionals, and specialist medical services such as obstetricians) results in further population decline as people relocate to be close to these important services.
Successful strategies for maintaining health services to date include Councils providing housing and medical facilities and the provision of
GP training locally.
However, gaps still exist, and innovative solutions are required to address these. The direction for NSW Health is to create self-reliant regions where people can get the best possible services close to home. This involves developing regional centres of excellence such as Albury Wodonga Health with its Cancer Centre, regional health hubs and developing new models of care to take the pressure off major hospitals e.g. establishing systems and supports to utilise smaller hospitals for recovery and recuperation following treatment at a major centre. These strategies require improvements in transport, digital connectivity (e-health), infrastructure, workforce training and new service provision. RAMJO has a role in working with health service providers (and training organisations) to ensure the needs of the communities are met (and are affordable) with consideration given to the broader underlying supports/enablers required and to identify the potential role of councils.