Regions of Australia showing the percentage of children vulnerable in at least one domain

Senate Inquiry submission regarding GP access in rural areas

Royal Far West (RFW) welcomes this Inquiry as an opportunity to highlight the important role of GPs in facilitating access to crucial child-focused services in regional and remote Australia.

The physical, emotional and social development attained in childhood sets a trajectory for long-term outcomes in health, education and wellbeing. Timely access to sufficient, high quality allied health services – which often require a GP referral – is essential to address deep geographic and social inequalities in access.

Allied health services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy and child psychology are important components of the primary health care sector. These services are increasingly delivered in a variety of contexts, not just traditional community health services. As summarised by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW):

Primary health care services are delivered in settings such as general practices, community health centres, allied health practices, and via communication technologies such as telehealth and video consultations. General practitioners (GPs), nurses, nurse practitioners, allied health professionals, midwives, pharmacists, dentists, and Aboriginal health practitioners are all considered primary health care professionals.*

RFW’s submission addresses:

1. The significant role of GPs as referrers to allied health services for country children
2. Developmental inequity and vulnerabilities of country children
3. Inequity in access to child development services
1. The impact of unaddressed developmental vulnerability
2. The impact of recent natural disasters on rural families and children
3. Mental health
4. The role of telehealth in primary health care
5. Recommendations

RFW has included some recommendations and general comments that go to its mission – to strengthen the health and wellbeing of children living in rural and remote communities across Australia.

*see Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website for reference.

Read our full submission.