The joint Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) and La Trobe University Rural Health School forum will bring together policy makers, local service managers and occupational therapists to discuss important national reforms in health and social service policy.
'Rural healthcare is changing. And so are the ways we manage the region's major health challenges,' said La Trobe expert Dr Carol McKinstry.
'One of the priorities is preparing for the local roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in 2017. This will be the biggest reform since the late 1980s, when Australia transitioned people from mental health and disability facilities into community-care.
'We also need to look at ways we can improve our services on the ground right now, because compared to the cities, rural and regional communities have higher rates of cancer, cardio-vascular disease, mental illness and other chronic conditions.'
Dr McKinstry said people in these communities often have poorer access to healthcare, particularly specialist mental health services.
'We can better use technology to overcome that tyranny of distance – and not just for our clients. Technology provides new opportunities for professional development and support for healthcare workers.'
Kim Mestroni, OTA Victoria Division Manager said that the forum would include a round table discussion with key stakeholders and a panel discussion with local health experts.
'We'll have state and federal Members of Parliament, local councillors, health and disability community leaders contributing to these discussions.
'So this will be a great event around some of the key issues facing health consumers, both in Bendigo and regional areas more broadly.'
Guest speakers will include
- Senator Claire Moore – Shadow Minister for Women, Carers and Communities
- Ms Lisa Chesters MP – Federal Member for Bendigo
- Ms Maree Edwards MLA – State Member for Bendigo West
- Ms Margaret Fitzherbert MLC – Victorian Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Women's Health and Rural and Regional Health
The forum will take place on Tuesday 27 October. Click here for more information.
Media enquiries: Tom O'Callaghan, Media and Communications, T 03 5444 7415, M 0408 900 469
Image by Peter Johnson