Parliament House hosts inaugural National Rural and Remote Health Awards
16th November 2023
By Theo Clark
Uniting the rural and remote health community in celebration
Rural Health Pro's inaugural National Rural and Remote Health Awards were held last week in Canberra, bringing together finalists from all over outback and rural Australia for a celebration of the unsung heroes of health. More than 160 people attended the event on Monday 13 November in the Mural Hall of Parliament House, where they were welcomed by local Ngunnawal elder Auntie Violet Sheridan and MC'd by the ABC's James Glenday and Jane Norman.
The Hon Emma Mcbride MP, Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health delivered a keynote speech, and spoke of the importance of supporting and celebrating the efforts and achievements of rural and remote health workers. The Opposition was represented by Senator Anne Ruston, Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care.
National Rural Health Commissioner, Adjunct Professor Ruth Stewart also spoke, telling the gathering of the power of collaboration: "In remote and rural areas, the challenges are unique, but the power of coming together to address these challenges is unparalleled," she said.
New South Wales winners
Merimbula GP Dr Corin Miller, who won the award for Rural/Remote Health Professional of the Year for her work on the New South Wales south coast, was one of three New South Wales finalists to receive an award on the evening. "I’m so appreciative of Rural Health Pro for giving rural healthcare such a positive platform," she told RDN.
"Together with my amazing team we created Djing.gii Gudjaagalali Kids Clinic which is children’s stars in the local language," said Dr Miller. "It is a school-based multidisciplinary clinic, catering to the needs of children with developmental, behavioural or learning or mental health concerns. So instead of them waiting years to be seen by local services, we can see them within weeks and really transform their life trajectory."
Reflecting on the importance of events like the Awards bringing the rural health community together, Dr Miller said "by all of us collaborating and coming together and removing silos between different providers, that’s how we drive real change in the regions."
Also from New South Wales, Acting Manager Aged Care and Disability Programs at Southern NSW Local Health District Janice Dalton taking out the award for Rural/Remote Aged and Disability Carer of the Year, while Goojinburra woman and med-student at New England University Shay-Lee Coulson won the Rising Star award.
Putting the Outback front and centre
North and West Remote Health won Rural/Remote Health Employer of the Year, with offices serving remote/rural Queensland from the Gulf to Birdsville and from Mt Isa to Townsville. Asked to reflect on the importance of these awards, CEO John Cain said: "I think that the rural and remote health sector gets forgotten and left behind sometimes. So, if anything from tonight it brings to light the importance of rural and remote health and the staff and the work that all organisations do in that sector, and we’re incredibly proud to be a part of that."
The Electronic Health Record Project Team of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) won Rural/Remote Health Innovator of the Year. Using technology formerly used only in defence and motorsport, RFDS this year launched a new pre-hospital Electronic Health Record (EHR) which allows doctors, nurses and paramedics to share real-time medical information, allowing for a digital ‘extra pair of hands’ in the back of their aircraft.
"I think in rural health, it takes a lot to make healthcare different, you really have to innovate," RFDS Chief Information Officer Ryan Klose told RDN. "The technology we just introduced in outback Australia is the same that you’re going to get [in the city] or even superior. We really got inspired with this product, we wanted to leapfrog and jump where technology was. We took what Oracle were doing in Red Bull Racing and bought that capability of data, the telemetry data, the immediacy data, to outback Australia and made that our selling point."
Dr Rex Prabhu, the Executive Medical Director at Swan Hill District Health in Victoria was honoured with the award for Excellence in Rural/Remote Health Administration and told RDN that the event represented a moment of pride and a great opportunity to meet and share ideas with fellow travellers in rural health:
"I think it's celebrating the positive stories, the good stories out there, we often hear the poor outcomes in the news, in the media. But there are real innovators, real people on the ground that strive for better outcomes. Even today, I met up with a couple other partners on my table who I’m going to meet in the next few months to develop partnerships, so it’s a great event. And to know people are here with different innovations that come out, learn from them, take them back to my health service, I think it’s a great opportunity," Dr Prabhu said.
Spotlight on inspiring Aboriginal Health stories
A large contingent from the Aboriginal health sector attended the event, and was well represented across all award categories, with Darling Downs Public Health winning the award for Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healthcare for their Healthy Skin, Healthy Heart program.
The award for Dedication to Health in a Remote Location went to Hoops 4 Health, a First Nations-led business based on Larrakia Country in the Northern Territory, while CEO of Katherine West Health Board Aboriginal Corporation Sinon Cooney after winning the award for Rural/Remote Multidisciplinary Collaboration of the Year, summed up the enthusiasm in room for many by telling RDN that they were travelling a ten thousand km round trip to be at the awards and that "it was worth it!":
"We’re just so happy to be here, its great to celebrate the win with our other colleagues and on behalf of our team and our board, we’re looking forward to taking back the win to everyone and thanks very much to Rural Health Pro for this wonderful night, it’s been great. And to all of the Award recipients, congratulations," Mr Cooney said.
National Rural and Remote Health Awards - 2023 Winners
- Dedication to Health in a Remote Location: Hoops 4 Health Pty Ltd
- Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healthcare: Healthy Skin Healthy Heart - Darling Downs Public Health Unit and Darling Downs Indigenous Health Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service
- Excellence in Rural/Rmote Health Administration: Associate Professor Rex Prabhu
- Rising Star: Shay-Lee Coulson
- Rural/Remote Aged and Disability Carer of the Year: Janice Dalton
- Rural/Remote Health Advocate of the Year: Jasmine Davis
- Rural/Remote Health Employer of the Year (Organisation): North and West Remote Health Ltd
- Rural/Remote Health Innovator of the Year: RFDS Electronic Health Record Project Team
- Rural/Remote Health Professional of the Year: Dr Corin Miller
- Rural/Remote Multidisciplinary Collaboration of the Year: Katherine West Health Board
- Winners of the inaugural National Rural and Remote Health Awards Announced (Rural Health Pro)
- Merimbula GP Dr Corin Miller recognised as the Rural Health Professional of the Year (ABC)
- National Recognition for Darling Downs health initiative (QLD Health)
- Royal Flying Doctor Service Receives Prestigious Innovator Award for Electronic Health Record (RFDS)
- Kimberley pharmacist delivering medications by helicopter during state's worst floods nominated for remote health award (ABC)
- Respected country doctor up for national award (WA Country Health Service)
- Corin Miller speaks on ABC News Breakfast about winning the Rural Health Professional of the Year award. (ABC)
- Hoops 4 Health Indigenous youth organisation recognised with health award (ABC)
- Inaugural Rural and Remote Health Awards (Australian Health Journal)
For full coverage of the National Rural and Remote Health Awards, visit www.ruralhealthpro