Help needed to advocate for better rural research funding to improve health outcomes in our rural communities

16 AUGUST 2018

Funding, resources and the future of rural health research will be discussed by key health research bodies at the Western NSW Health Research Network conference held on 16 and 17 August in Orange.

Funding, resources and the future of rural health research will be discussed by key health research bodies at the Western NSW Health Research Network (WHRN) conference.

The 5th WHRN conference will take place on Thursday, 16 and Friday 17 August at the University of Sydney School of Rural Health campus and Charles Sturt University in Orange.  There will also be three 2018 Western NSW Health Research awards presented at the Gala event dinner at the Greenhouse of Orange on Thursday night.  

Three Rivers University Department of Rural Health is a major sponsor of this event and its Director, Professor Megan Smith, Deputy Dean of the CSU Faculty of Science, will be facilitating an important session on “Funding, resources and the future of rural health research”.

“I’m really pleased to be representing the Three Rivers University Department of Rural Health at the WRHN conference. This is a great event showcasing the research talent in rural Australia.

"Three Rivers is particularly proud to be sponsoring an Award that recognises and encourages this talent. In terms of the program I’m looking forward to facilitating a robust discussion of Funding for rural health research on Friday. We have some great people on the panel whose collective voices will be making an important statement about the importance of supporting future research undertaken in rural communities by rural researchers answering questions of importance to rural people.” Professor Smith said.

Addressing the health inequality experienced by rural and remote Australians is a stated aim of the Australian Government. While National Health and Medical Research Council funding for rural health research has increased over the past decade, at 2.4% by value, it still appears very low given the extent of the health burden faced by the 30% who live in rural Australia. “Health research has a direct influence on improving health outcomes and reducing health inequalities in our rural communities.” said Associate Professor Catherine Hawke, Chair of WHRN.  

The conference will be attended by key research organisations who are coming to listen and talk to rural health researchers and clinicians about the importance of building research capacity in Western NSW. “We will be summarising key outcomes at the end of the conference to take back to Minister Brad Hazzard and other politicians” A/Professor Hawke said.

During the two-day conference there will be keynote addresses from Tony Penna, Executive Director, Office for Health and Medical Research, NSW Ministry of Health, Scott McLachlan, Chief Executive, Western NSW Local Health District, Sally Redman, Professor Sally Redman AO, Chief Executive Officer, Sax Institute, Professor Garry Jennings AO, Executive Director, Sydney Health Partners and Sabina Knight, Director, Mount Isa Centre for Rural & Remote Health.  

Attendees at the conference will hear a about a range of rural research studies in Mental Health, Youth Health, Aboriginal Health and Health Services as well as have the opportunity of participating in an interactive panel discussion on the future of funding, resources and rural health research.

People are urged to engage in the conference via social media using the hashtag #WHRN18, or by livestreaming the conference on Day 2 from one of nine health facilities across Western NSW: Brewarrina Multipurpose Service, Broken Hill Health Service, Cobar Health Service, Condobolin Health Service, Cowra Health Service, Dubbo Health Service, Forbes Health Service, Mudgee Health Service and Orange Health Service.

WHRN Snapshot:

* The Western NSW Health Research Network (WHRN) is the peak body for health research in Western NSW. The Network began in 2013 and has over 200 members.

* Associate Professor Catherine Hawke is the founding Chair of WHRN and also the Deputy Head of the School of Rural Health, based in Orange. Dr Alice Munro, Research Capability Building Manager for Western NSW Local Health District, is the Deputy Chair of WHRN.

* WHRN is a collaboration between four universities, Western NSW Local Health District Western NSW primary health network, Hospitals, community managed organisations and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs).

* The networks aims to improve health and wellbeing and reduce the health inequalities of people living, studying and working in western NSW through research.

* The focus of WHRN’s activities is to:  o Promote and facilitate local health research o Provide opportunities for people interested in health research to meet, support, mentor and collaborate with each other.  o Support the training and education needs of local researchers

* Each year WHRN hosts a conference to bring together health professionals and researchers to showcase innovative and rigorous rural health research.

Three Rivers UDRH Snapshot:

* Three Rivers UDRH aims to improve the recruitment and retention of nursing, midwifery, dentistry and allied health professionals in rural and remote Australia.

* Their significant program supports allied health, nursing, midwifery and dentistry student placements in regional and rural Australia. Based in central and southern NSW, it covers CSU's regional footprint, encompassing both the Murrumbidgee and Western Local Health District Primary Health Networks.

* Three Rivers UDRH works in partnership with local councils, educators and healthcare providers.

* Three Rivers UDRH is based at Charles Sturt University in the Riverina and Central West region of New South Wales.  The region has five Major Sites; Albury and Wagga Wagga to the South, Griffith to the West, Dubbo to the North and Orange to the East.

* The Australian Government Department of Health is supporting the program with federal funding.

Media contact:

Wes Ward, 0417 125 795

Media Note:

For further media information, on the conference, please contact WHRN Chair, Associate Professor Catherine Hawke on 0418 368 366.

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