About the project

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Celebrating GPs working in rural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

Every community across Australia deserves access to highly trained GPs who understand the unique needs and circumstances of rural and remote areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The RACGP has more than 41,000 members, with almost 10,000 living and working in rural and remote communities.

In this context, ‘rural’ covers all areas outside Australia’s major cities, inclusive of inner and outer regional areas and rural and remote communities and isolated regions. The focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health reflects the RACGP’s commitment to this specialised area of healthcare and recognises the presence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in all locations across Australia.

Through stories, profiles and pictures, we explore the challenges and opportunities in delivering health services in these unique settings. The diverse stories provide a good mix of the types of experiences in rural and remote practice, and demonstrates that going rural and practicing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health could be the best decision you ever make.

A common thread throughout is the strong connection and important role GPs hold in their community. It is that commitment and community connectedness that comes through in each story, together with the respect and appreciation of ancient cultures and knowledge and unique facets of rural life.

You can read more about the project and its purpose in newsGP.


Around seven million people, that is, about 28% of the Australian population, live in rural and remote areas.1


There are fewer GPs in remote locations than in major cities of Australia. The number of health providers per 100,000 people in major cities is 121 compared with 100 in outer-regional areas.4


People living in rural and remote areas have a shorter life expectancy and a higher level of illness and disease risk factors than those in major cities.2


Seventy-five percent of people in major cities report that they are able to see a GP within 24 hours. This figure drops to 64% for those in outer-regional, remote and very remote areas.5


Sixty-five percent of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in Australia live outside a major city.


Almost half (40%) of the rural workforce is made up of international medical graduates and overseas-trained doctors.6


The health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in rural and remote areas is significantly worse than that of their non-Indigenous counterparts.


Over 677 GPs have completed the Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice (FARGP), with 111 new enrolments over the last year.4


Rural and remote populations rely more on GPs to provide healthcare services, due to less availability of local specialist services.3


Applications for the RACGP's 2021 Australian General Practice Training Program showed a 40% increase in junior doctors compared with applications for 2020 training.6


Accessing primary care is more difficult and, in many regions, requires more time and increased travel and accommodation expenses.

  • 1Australian Bureau of Statistics. Regional population growth, Australia, 2017-18. Cat. no. 3218.0. Canbera: ABS, 2019.
  • 2Australian Institute of Health and welfare. Admitted patient care 2017-18: Australian hospital statistics.
  • 3Department of Health. National strategic framework for rural and remote health. Canberra: DoH, 2019
  • 4The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. General practice: Health of the nation 2020. East Melbourne, Vic: RACGP, 2020.
  • 5Australian Bureau of Statistics. Patient experiences in Australia: Summary of findings, 2018-19. Cat. no.4839.0. Canberra: ABS, 2019.
  • 6Department of Health. GP workforce statistics: 2001-02 to 2017-18. Canberra: DoH, 2018

Submit your story

Do you have an experience in rural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health that you want to share with other members?
Submit your story below or
contact us if you would like to record your experience.

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