The opportunities and challenges facing Australia’s northern health sector will be front and centre of discussions at the fifth meeting of the Northern Australian Advisory Council (NAAC) in Alice Springs today.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan established the council in July 2017 to advance economic and social growth across the region, and said the unique health needs of people living in the north made it an important part of planning for Northern Australia’s future.
“This council meeting is an important opportunity to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing the health sector in Northern Australia,” Minister Canavan said.
“The meeting will include presentations from regional and rural clinical service providers, and give us a chance to be briefed on new initiatives in the tropical health sector and discuss priorities for specialised services and models of practice for rural and remote communities.
“We will be given an overview by Dr Rolf Gomes of how the Heart of Australia program has been operating across remote Queensland communities.
“Using a customised road train, this service has provided fortnightly specialist medical investigation and treatment clinics to people living in communities including Dalby, Goondiwindi, St George, Charleville, Roma, Barcaldine, Longreach, Hughenden and Moranbah.
“So far, this ‘medical clinic-on-wheels’ has travelled more than 150,000 kilometres and covered an area of more than 450,000 square kilometres which illustrates its importance to people living in rural and remote parts of the state who would otherwise find it difficult to access appropriate health care.
“We will also be briefed by Professor Alan Cass, who leads the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin.
“Professor Cass is a leading researcher in tropical medicine and he will give us an overview of key global and tropical health initiatives and priority research areas for the tropics.”
The Northern Australia Advisory Council’s members are drawn from the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia, giving the committee great depth of knowledge and experience.
The council advises the Minister on key issues in the north including health, Indigenous affairs, tourism, local government, small business and the resources and agricultural industries.
The next NAAC meeting is scheduled to be held in Western Australia in the first half of 2019.