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Funding – or a lack of it – is the constant and dominate conversation around health care across the nation, whether it’s funding for hospitals or wage rises for our front-line nurses, midwives, and allied health professionals.

We all know that finding that little bit extra can make an enormous difference to providing better health and well-being outcomes.

But the reality is that there is no magic pudding when it comes to the ever-increasing demands on our health care system and the inevitable annual increases in costs to delivering services – especially for rural and remote communities.

Like other organisations dedicated to providing contemporary standards of health care, we are constantly examining and measuring ways we can focus our efforts on the communities that need it the most.

This often involves taking a hard look at the systemic issues in our health care system and identifying ways of making incremental adjustments towards equitable and sustainable outcomes.

These objectives have been at the heart of two important partnerships that we have begun over the past months.

Our joint investigation with the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) is aimed at uncovering the full extent of the financial and resource burden on rural and remote local governments in providing primary health care, especially general practice.

While we understand that this has been a common practice over many years, we are concerned that as demand for rural general practitioners continues to outstrip supply, pressure on local government to provide more and more support will eventually “break” the system and cause local governments to reduce or withdraw their support. This of course would create serious inequities for many rural and
remote communities.

Our work to find sustainable solutions is no better demonstrated than in our pilot program with several Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) that will better coordinate the range of specialist chronic disease outreach programs provided by Rural Health West on behalf of the Australian Government.

This program has helped communities develop resources resulting in increased referrals from mainstream GPs and health professionals, and improved support for vulnerable clients, including the elderly and dialysis patients.

Our advocacy for a fairer funding model for local governments and increased funding for delivering better outreach services for Indigenous communities are the kind of incremental changes that will result in significant health and well-being outcomes for rural and remote communities.

Acknowledgement of Country