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Investing in better health care for rural Autralains



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THE HON CATHERINE KING MP PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND AGEING

MEDIA RELEASE

10 JUNE 2012

INVESTING IN BETTER HEALTH CARE FOR RURAL AUSTRALIANS

The Australian Government has made significant investments to help people in rural and regional Australia get the health care they need and deserve, a gathering of rural health professionals was told today.

Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing Catherine King was a guest speaker at the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland Medico-Political Forum.

Ms King told the gathering that the Australian Government was well aware of the difficulties facing the people of rural Australia in accessing adequate health care.

“We know that, in the past, people in these areas have faced significant shortages of health workers, coped with older hospitals and health facilities, and travelled long distances to specialist centres,” she said.

“This Government has taken significant steps to address inequities by putting in place a number of initiatives and incentives to help rural Australians get the health care they need and deserve. For example we are planning to invest more than $2 billion in a variety of targeted rural health and aged care programs.

“This includes $475 million in new and upgraded health facilities in regional Australia, under our Health and Hospitals Fund regional priority round and $108 million under the Government’s Living Longer Living Better aged care reform plan for ensuring the sustainability of aged care services in regional, rural and remote areas.”

Ms King said the Government was also investing heavily in measures to increase the numbers of doctors, nurses, dentists and allied health professionals in the bush through workforce planning, investment in training and education, and programs to encourage health professionals to practice in rural areas.

“This investment is bearing fruit. Incentives we are offering to encourage doctors to relocate and remain in regional, rural and remote Australia have already contributed to an increase of more than four per cent in the number of GPs working in these areas in just one year,” she said.

“We are working hard to put in place the things necessary to meet the current and future needs of rural Australians, and to ensure that all Australians have access to high quality health care, when they need it, regardless of where they live.”

For more information, contact the parliamentary secretary’s office on 02 6277 4230