For 95 years, Royal Far West (RFW) has been caring for country kids. Today, our integrated health, education and disability services for children aged 0-12 years are delivered through a combination of residential, telehealth and in-community programs. We see firsthand the need for improved access to allied health services in rural and remote areas. This is why our pre-budget submission advocates for policy and budget attention to telehealth and associated Medicare rebates. Specifically, we have recommended greater and more immediate access to psychology services for rural and remote Australian children. We have also recommended solutions to reduce Childhood Vulnerability for rural and remote Australians through screening. In addition, we outline scaleable technology models to Close the Gap in very remote Aboriginal communities through clever partnerships and telehealth.
Royal Far West (RFW) is an established speciality service provider to rural and remote Australian children and their families who are dealing daily with the ongoing crisis in access to health services, including lack of access to appropriate mental health services.
Our proven service is directed at improving the mental health rates of isolated children, the vulnerability rates of rural and remote Australian children, family support for children with complex needs, the capacity of isolated teachers, health practitioners and families to support children with complex health and development needs and support to the Government with solutions on seemingly intractable problem.
Given our long-term, proven experience and our successful outcomes, our pre-budget submission aimed to support the Federal Government in addressing those compelling needs for the Australian community that go to the health and wellbeing of children, young people, and families. Our service delivery supports the Government’s agenda across multiple portfolios including Indigenous Affairs, Regional Development, Disability, Health and Education.
In 2017, RFW outlined and published nationally, an evidence and experience-based approach to addressing the rate of developmental vulnerability in Australia in “The Invisible Children” Report. Royal Far West proposes a nationally funded integrated approach to Early Childhood Development and a National Target to reduce developmental vulnerability in rural and remote Australia from 22% to 10%.
Such an approach would focus on greater awareness of the problem of disadvantaged and developmentally challenged children, and the ongoing costs, particularly for regional Australia; earlier intervention services and possibilities; and improved access to allied health services in rural communities, including face-to-face and tele-health solutions.
A national focus, bringing together health, education, social care and regional development resources, is recommended to ensure that the rural inequities are addressed, and every vulnerable and at risk child can access the life skills support to which they are entitled.
Currently RFW provides services to approximately 5,500 children, families and teachers each year. Analysis of the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) identifies that one in five children are developmentally vulnerable on one or more domains and would benefit from RFW’s primary and community care services, and one in 10 children are developmentally vulnerable on two or more domains and would benefit from RFW’s complex care services. This rate translates to approximately 330,539 and 171,031 children respectively across regional Australia. READ MORE