Government has got a plan for better regional health outcomes

By Benalla Ensign

People living in rural and regional communities deserve the same access to high-quality healthcare services as those living in capital cities according to Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie.

She said she was focused on working to improve the capacity, the quality and distribution of health services to ensure the sector gets the attention and resources it deserves.

“The Coalition Government has a clear plan to improve health outcomes in rural and regional Australia,” Ms McKenzie said.

“It’s multi-pronged and includes a strategic and long-term commitment,” she said.

“If people living in country areas are to have access to health services comparable to those living in major centres, we need to build and create a sustainable health workforce in our regions.

“This means making it easier for young people to complete their medical training without having to move to a capital city.”

Ms McKenzie said when students complete the majority of their training in a regional setting; they are more likely to stay in the country to practice.

She said this means offering incentives for doctors and other health professionals to live and work in country areas.

“That lets them know what we all inherently know and believe: that it’s not a bad thing to live, work and grow up in rural and regional areas,” Ms McKenzie added.

“We’re focused as a government on creating the settings to make this possible,” she said.

“We’re supporting the health workforce and investing in areas to address health issues that specifically affect those people living in rural and regional areas like Benalla.

“Our rural communities are incredibly resilient – we know that, but we’re not unbreakable. Droughts, flood, isolation, can test the most seemingly unbreakable of spirits.

“And so, as a government, we’re investing in mental health for people living in rural and regional areas and utilising technology and innovative approaches to overcome the tyranny of distance.”

Ms McKenzie said as part of that the government was investing in a range of initiatives to make it easier for people in country areas to find the pathway to services, to be more active, to have healthier lifestyles.

Not just eating healthy food and making healthy choices, she said, but making it easy for them to connect into physical activity and sports, because what we do know: sport and physical activity does assist our physical health, but increasingly, the body of research around its impact on our mental health is overwhelming.

“So we need to ensure Australians are finding physical activity that they can connect with,” Ms McKenzie added.

“This will give Australians in rural areas, particularly younger Australians, the tools they need to make the choices to lead longer and happier lives.”