Response to Rural Health Inquiry welcome outcome for country communities with reduced access to quality health care

The response of the NSW Government to the recommendations from the NSW Rural Health Inquiry has been welcomed by the Country Women’s Association (CWA) of NSW, on the eve of the launch of their annual Awareness Week campaign, which this year is shining a light on health care shortfalls in the bush.

Yesterday, the NSW Government finalised its response to the Rural Health Inquiry, supporting or supporting in principle 41 of the 44 recommendations handed down in May. At that time, the report highlighted a “crisis” within the NSW rural health system, which was “failing residents of rural, regional and remote areas".

President of the CWA of NSW, Joy Beames, said for the government to support at some level all but three of the recommendations was significant for rural and regional communities and validated the lived experiences of CWA members and their communities who have long warned of an emerging health crisis in regional and remote NSW.

“We welcome this response from the NSW Government and look forward to this commitment resulting in meaningful improvements to current services available to residents in non-metropolitan areas of the state. We have a long history of advocating for action on health services in these communities and we feel after yesterday’s government response the impetus is there to develop a rural health system that delivers the care these areas deserve,” she said.

Joy said it was also gratifying the Government had agreed to the recommendation to undertake a two-year review of progress around the inquiry recommendations, and she was pleased each of the recommendations focused on health care staffing recruitment, training and retention were supported by the Government.

The CWA of NSW will launch its annual Awareness Week campaign on Sunday, September 4, this year highlighting the inadequacies of maternity services and support in rural and regional NSW. Included in the Rural Health Inquiry recommendations were several aimed at improving these services for women and their families, and they were among those endorsed by the Government yesterday.

The Association has used its Awareness Week platform to highlight the need to do more for rural and regional health a number of times in recent years, and as it celebrates its centenary in 2022, Joy said the Association would continue to speak up for country communities on issues of such critical importance. Issues, she said, that paved the way for the formation of the CWA of NSW 100 years ago.

“This annual campaign is all about highlighting where the need exists for country residents and appealing for tangible actions, so when we see a response like this to an issue we know is having a significant impact on so many, it’s very gratifying and a great result for our members who work so hard for the benefit of their communities,” Joy said. 


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