What is Outreach?
Outreach aims to increase access to health services for people living in regional, remote and Aboriginal communities by delivering clinics that reduce access barriers, including:
- distance and disruption from travel to major centres;
- cost and economic hurdles;
- cultural safety barriers; and
- by strengthening local service capacity through upskilling.
RDN’s Outreach Program supports regional, remote and Aboriginal communities to access a wide range of health services. This is achieved by working in partnership with local organisations to support visiting health practitioners who currently provide over 1,200 outreach services. More than 160 towns and communities in NSW and the ACT receive visiting services that are supported by the Outreach Program.
The aim of the Outreach Program is to increase access to medical, allied health and nursing services for people living in regional and remote towns and Aboriginal communities in both rural and urban locations. Improved access is achieved by removing some of the most common barriers that many patients experience. This is accomplished through the following activities:
The provision of services in regional and remote locations and via telehealth to minimise the time, travel cost and disruption often required of patients to access the nearest alternative service that may be hundreds of kilometres away.
Prioritising support for services that are bulk-billed or free of charge in order to remove the economic hurdles that rural and Aboriginal patients often face.
Delivering culturally fitting services to reduce cultural barriers that are otherwise experienced by many Aboriginal patients. When appropriate, outreach services are hosted by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) and visiting health practitioners are supported to undertake cultural training and local community orientation.
Supporting clinical up-skilling sessions that are provided by visiting health practitioners to strengthen the capacity of local health services and practitioners to manage patients’ ongoing care.
In addition to increased patient access, the Outreach Program provides urban and regionally based health practitioners with the opportunity to experience working in a rural or Aboriginal community (and in some cases this has resulted in health practitioners relocating permanently to rural locations). The program also supports students and registrars to participate in outreach clinics and gain exposure to rural and Aboriginal health.
RDN holds partnerships with more than 50 health organisations that implement the local delivery of outreach services. RDN’s local partners include ACCHSs, Local Health Districts, Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and hospitals.
RDN’s Outreach Program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and currently comprises four individual programs. Information about each program, their focus and eligibility is provided below.
What outreach programs are there?
Chronic Disease Management and Prevention Program (CDMPP) – The objective of the program is to provide services, where there is no alternative funding or service model available. The program is targeted at adults with preventable lifestyle related chronic disease and clients should have a GP Management Plan, as well as a referral from their GP to allied health services funded under the CDMPP model. This program is available in Western and Far Western NSW.
The CDMPP and model of care has been designed to implement services for the following; chronic disease management for ‘high need’ people with two or more chronic conditions; and chronic disease prevention for people at ‘high risk’ of developing chronic diseases.
Ear and Eye Surgical Support Service (EESSS) - The EESSS aims to expedite access to surgical interventions for Indigenous Australians with diagnosed ear and eye conditions, such as otitis media and cataracts, who are awaiting surgery. There is no age restriction for access to ear and eye surgery through the EESSS program.
Healthy Ears, Better Hearing, Better Listening (HEBHBL) - Funds multidisciplinary teams and individual health practitioners to support the prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and management of ear health and hearing conditions in Aboriginal children and youth (up to 21 years). Aboriginal communities located in regional, remote and urban areas (ASGC-RA 1-5) are eligible to receive HEBHBL services.
Medical Outreach Indigenous Chronic Disease Program (MOICDP) - Supports multidisciplinary teams and individual health practitioners to provide services to Aboriginal patients in regional, remote and urban locations (ASGC-RA 1-5). MOICDP focuses on addressing chronic conditions that have been or are likely to be present for six months or more.
Rural Health Outreach Fund (RHOF) - Supports multidisciplinary teams and individual health practitioners to provide services to regional or remote communities within ASGC-RA 2-5 locations. RHOF services focus on the following health needs:
- Maternity and paediatric health;
- Eye health;
- Mental health; and
- Support for chronic disease management.
Visiting Optometrist Scheme (VOS) - First established in 1975, VOS supports optometrists to deliver outreach optometric services to remote and very remote locations, and rural communities with an identified need for optometric services. VOS was expanded in 2009-10 to provide increased optometry services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
What is an ASGC-RA score?
The Australian Standard Geographical Classification - Remoteness Area (ASGC-RA) is a geographical classification system that was developed in 2001 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The RA categories are defined in terms of ‘remoteness’ i.e. the physical distance of a location from the nearest urban centre (access to goods and services) based on population size. You can find out the ASGC-RA score of your town by searching the map at DoctorConnect.