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RACGP National Rural Faculty Response to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee Report

29 August 2012

In their report tabled on 22 August 2012, the Senate Community Affairs Committee provide a comprehensive review of submissions and a detailed analysis of the key impacts affecting the supply of health and medical professionals in rural areas. The committee has fully identified the key areas that require urgent policy attention in order to shift long-standing health disparities between rural, remote and urban communities in Australia.

The RACGP National Rural Faculty (NRF) welcomes the report and is particularly pleased that it holds a strong emphasis on the role of general practice and primary care in rural communities. The report recognises that the capacity of, and equitable access to, general practice is central to bringing about lasting change in rural communities.

The National Rural Faculty is also pleased that the committee acknowledged the important contribution of International Medical Graduates (IMGs) in rural areas. The committee has also supported the findings of the recent House of Representatives review of 2011, "Lost in the Labyrinth".

In terms of broader policy change, most noteworthy is the committee's call for a new classification system that moves beyond the current ASGC-RA classification scheme. The committee has recommended a new system be developed that takes into account detailed needs analysis, accompanied by relevant modelling and sector consultation.

The strategies put forward by the committee, if implemented, would help to shift urban-rural health disparities and improve the health of those living in regional, rural and remote communities. Whilst it may take considerable courage to transform current policy, the RACGP National Rural Faculty awaits the opportunity to work with Government to implement these important changes.