JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
THE HON EMMA MCBRIDE MP, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR RURAL AND REGIONAL HEALTH
THE HON SHAYNE NEUMANN MP, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR BLAIR
On Thursday, Federal Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health Emma McBride and Member for Blair Shayne Neumann hosted a roundtable on regional health in Fernvale, with a focus on rural allied health workforce challenges.
The roundtable was attended by around 20 participants from Somerset Regional Council and a range of professional bodies, service providers and local community groups, including Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH), the Brisbane Valley Inter-Agency Group and Kilcoy Inter-Agency Group.
Also in attendance were representatives from the Darling Downs and West Moreton Primary Health Network (PHN) and West Moreton Health, as well as the University of Southern Queensland.
A key focus of the forum was allied health workforce shortages and service access issues, which can have a real impact on people living in the Somerset Region.
The outcome of the discussion was a list of recommendations put forward by participants:
- Continuation of funding for the Allied Health Rural Generalist (AHRG) pathway nationally for NGO organisations and private providers in rural and remote communities.
- Waiving university HELP debts for allied health graduates who live and work in rural and remote areas.
- Development of an allied health workforce strategy.
These proposals will be distributed to relevant ministerial offices and government agencies to help inform policy initiatives in rural and regional health.
Other issues raised included a lack of transport services to access treatment, Health and Hospital Service area boundaries impacting funding and health workforce recruitment, the need for more allied health training, and a shortage of volunteers.
The need for more aged care services and facilities in the Somerset Region was a recurring theme during the discussion.
Attendees cited the Home Care Workforce Support program operating in Esk as an excellent example of a place-based aged care solution, and urged the Government to continue funding it.
Assistant Minister McBride said all Australians deserved to have access to high-quality health services regardless of where they lived.
“The Albanese Labor Government is committed to working collaboratively with local community groups to boost the health workforce in regional, rural and remote areas.
“The Government has just announced a health workforce review to make sure we optimise our health professionals, including allied health practitioners in regional, rural and remote areas. So, I encourage SARRAH and Somerset-based organisations to make a submission to this review.”
Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann said helping make sure locals in Ipswich, the Somerset Region and Karana Downs have access to good healthcare was at the top of his priority list.
“I’m delighted the Government will be opening a new Ipswich Urgent Care Clinic and Head to Health mental health clinic soon, delivering on my election promises, and these will also service the Somerset Region.
“But we can always do better, and this roundtable has generated a lot of good ideas on what we can do to improve health services and tackle workforce challenges in the region.”