Royal Far West, one of Australia’s oldest and most respected children’s health charities, has welcomed the investment in rural and remote health in the Federal Budget, but echoes the calls of the National Rural Health Alliance that this is just the first step in properly funding rural and remote health.

Royal Far West is pleased to see:

  • Five new medical schools in the Murray Darling region
  • 3000 new doctors and 3000 new nurses for regional areas
  • $500 million for the Medical Research Future Fund focusing on Mental Health
  • $327 million for the Royal Flying Doctors Service medical, nursing, dental, and mental health programs

Royal Far West CEO Lindsay Cane said, “This budget recognises the dire and worsening need of rural and remote Australians to receive equitable health services. Royal Far West also welcomes the new Health Demand and Supply Utilisation Patterns Planning (HeaDDS UPP) workforce tracking. For many years Royal Far West has advocated for more accurate workforce data, to enable us to deliver services to the areas of greatest need.”

Royal Far West will continue to seek support from the Federal Government for funding for allied health services that matches the investment in rural medicine as well as a greater focus on children post the first 1000 days. There is a growing need for early intervention services to prevent self-harm, suicide, and hospital admissions for mental health disorders in the teenage years. As outlined last month in the Medical Journal of Australia, there has been a dramatic increase in children presenting to Emergency Departments for mental health disorders, and that ‘early one-on-one interventions could play a crucial role in altering the trajectory of mental illness, with prompt treatment at a young age potentially reducing disease burden and disability in later life, and may also prevent secondary functional disturbances’.

Royal Far West is committed to improving access to services in rural communities, and will continue to advocate for investment in innovative approaches to increasing access to allied health services in rural communities to support childhood development, such as technology supported services.

Royal Far West’s award-winning Telecare for Kids program is a proven response to the allied health shortage in the most remote parts of Australia for the assessment and treatment of developmental concerns in children.

CEO Lindsay Cane is available for media comment on 0416 222 384