RWAV welcomes this month’s Federal budget announcement which continues investment to support healthcare access in rural, regional and remote Australia through the Stronger Rural Health Strategy.
RWAV is pleased to see a strong focus on investment into primary care, which will prioritise funding to improve bulk-billing rates in rural communities and provide support to expand the mental health workforce.
In this analysis, RWAV’s General Manager – Strategy and Stakeholder Engagement, Lauren Cordwell, looks at the highlights in the budget for Victorian rural and regional health.
Reducing out-of-pocket costs for patients and improving the viability of primary care services within rural communities is welcome. This aligns with RWAV’s belief that health care for rural Victorians should be safe, high-quality and affordable.
We support efforts to increase viability for small rural practices to deliver primary care services and will observe the impacts of increasing the Rural Bulk Billing Incentive payment with interest.
Rural generalist GPs are critical in the rural health workforce as providers of vital advanced skills. We look forward to hearing more details of the new program and hope that the Federal Government considers future plans to continue increasing funding supports for rural generalist GPs.
RWAV believes health services in country Victoria should be equipped with infrastructure and resources to educate the next generation of health professionals. We believe increased placement opportunities for young doctors and registrars strongly impacts the likelihood of them remaining in rural areas for their careers.
We welcome this innovative funding and hope it will address the need for new supervision models and increase the availability of professional development opportunities for non-GP medical specialists. RWAV is acutely aware that continued access to professional development opportunities throughout a rural health professional’s career is a factor on retention.
RWAV is pleased to see investment in allied health rural generalism which recognises the unique training and support needs of rural allied health practitioners.
RWAV believes all health professionals should be supported to work together to provide healthcare that enhances complete patient cycles of care. We look forward to seeing positive impacts to our communities stemming from innovations to attract and retain allied health professionals.
RWAV is supportive of continued funding to trial innovative models to recruit and retain rural health professionals. We hope to see similar innovative models expand to Victoria.
RWAV supports solutions which increase access to mental health services to address the current shortage and high burden on health professionals delivering mental health services in country towns. We are also pleased with the significant focus on enhancing mental health access, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
RWAV believes health care provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must acknowledge a holistic view which is empowered by community-led governance and supported with high cultural safety principles.
In particular, we are hopeful that efforts in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to finalise the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan 2021-2031 and the increase of scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to study mental health related disciplines will work towards increasing the number of champions.
We believe that technology innovations to support healthcare delivery and continuity of care in country Victoria should be safe and affordable. RWAV is pleased to see the continuation of Medicare subsidised telehealth services as we are aware that many rural Victorian patients, health professionals and providers had positive experiences with telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic.