Rural Health Commissioner’s report on allied health services welcome

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

‘We welcome the Rural Health Commissioner’s recently-released report on improving and sustaining the quality and availability of allied health services in rural and remote areas’, says Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

‘The report will act as a much-needed catalyst to setting up systems that are locally-run and where services and training are integrated in a single professional pathway that leads to fulfilling local jobs.

‘We strongly advocated for a “Grow your own” allied health training system in rural areas. We therefore support the report’s focus on retaining people of rural origin, or who have positive experiences in rural areas in their early training.

‘We also support the report’s advocacy for greater participation by Indigenous Australians in providing culturally appropriate high-quality allied health services. But we would like to see these efforts formally integrated with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Plan currently being developed by the Commonwealth with the agreement of the states and territories.

‘While efforts to build and provide allied health services must be locally-driven, the system as a whole will need national leadership and coordination—not only across states and territories, but across various sectors such as health, education, disability and aged care.

‘We are therefore pleased that the Commissioner has recommended the appointment of a Chief Allied Health Officer. The coordination and implementation challenges will be considerable, but are the price of much-needed reform.

‘Implementation at a local level will also face many challenges—we think regional leadership through Primary Health Networks, hospitals and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations will be essential to the success of the strategies put forward in the Commissioner’s report.

‘The Commissioner’s recommendations on setting up an allied health services data system and infrastructure is another essential ingredient on the path to reform, and which we have also supported strongly across healthcare services in general. It is imperative that such systems can provide information on outcomes and effectiveness so that all parties, especially patients, get best-value care.

‘A recent paper published by the AHHA’s Deeble Institute, Data collection for community-based allied health chronic disease management, would be a useful reference for future data development efforts’, Ms Verhoeven said.

‘Finally, in making the Commissioner’s recommendations a reality, it is essential that clear funding avenues are set out by the Commonwealth, as well as the states and territories, for service provision, training, accreditation and the many other components of this welcome reform.’


The Rural Health Commissioner’s report, Improvement of Access, Quality and Distribution of Allied Health Services in Regional, Rural and Remote Australia, is available here.

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.


Media enquiries: Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, AHHA, 0403 282 501