The health of country Australians depends on the 2019 Federal Election.
Remote and rural Australians have up to three times the rate of chronic illness than people in cities.
Remote and rural Australians die on average two years earlier than city people.
Remote and rural Australians see doctors at only half the rate of people in the city. They see medical specialists at a third the rate. They see mental health professionals at a fifth the rate.
Across every measure, people who live in remote and rural Australia suffer worse health outcomes and have less access to health services than people in cities.
Chances are you’ve not heard these facts mentioned yet in the Federal Election campaign.
These facts need to be heard. Major parties need to respond to ensure all Australians, no matter where they live, can have universal access to quality healthcare to live long and healthy lives.
Graphic: Man on a stretcher assisted by the RFDS in remote area
The Royal Flying Doctor Service has been delivering health care to remote and rural Australians for more than ninety years.
For thousands of remote and rural residents, Australia’s most reputable charity is their doctor, their nurse, their dentist, and mental health carer. Twenty four hours a day, every day of the year, the RFDS is on standby for whatever the emergency.
Last year, the RFDS cared for 335,000 people. It delivered 40,000 aeromedical retrievals, 75,311 road transports, 16,000 primary health, dental, and mental health clinics in remote locations, and more than 88,000 telehealth consultations. Yet even this was not enough to meet the needs of remote and rural Australians.
In the years ahead, these needs will grow.
Despite the effort of many, over many decades, there is still insufficient resourcing of health services in country Australia.
The 2019 Federal Election needs to deliver a major boost in rural health funding across the entire rural health sector.
For the Australians in communities served by the RFDS, the major parties in the lead up to the Federal election should commit to:
1. Increasing the number of allied health professionals in remote and rural Australia by 500 over the next three years.
2. Implementing all recommendations of the 2018 Senate Inquiry into accessibility and quality of mental health services in rural and remote Australia.
3. Committing $100 million to translate clinical research into rural health practice
4. A permanent drought and flood health and wellbeing response plan
5. Improved distribution of health workforce for better access to health care in remote and rural areas