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Reflecting on the Rural GPs Conference


4th December 2023

For more than 30 years, GPs have had the opportunity to attend RDN’s Rural GPs Conference, an annual event which attracts rural doctors from across NSW and offers them the opportunity to connect, network, listen, learn and be rejuvenated. Now a part of Rural Health Month, this year's Conference was presented by RDN, the Rural Doctors' Association of NSW and the NSW Ministry of Health.

“The GPs Conference has become a great place for rural GPs to come together, to share, to have that safe place to come out of community and network, participate, share stories and train together,” RDN CEO Richard Colbran told the Conference Catch-Up podcast.   

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Explaining the long history of the Conference to host Jeremy Mitchell, Mr Colbran said that it was one of many things to come out of a doctor’s strike!  

“Back in 1987, the NSW doctors who were working rurally went on strike…and that was a very important moment in the establishment of the industry that we now know as, rural health…” Richard said. 

“Many things happened, and came out of the strike, and one of those was the establishment of the Rural Doctors Network and also things like the NSW Rural GPs Conference.” 

A dynamic lineup of clinical and non-clinical lectures, interactive workshops, and a range of social events were on offer for those who attended this year’s Conference, with the GPs Conference just one of 20 conferences, attracting more than 700 rural health professionals over a four-day period at Coogee’s Crowne Plaza. 

Topics discussed, and presented on, at the GPs Conference included innovative models of care and the future of general practice, the growing problem of metabolic Fatty Liver Disease, managing massive haemorrhage, navigating the fertility pathway and genetics in general practice, cancer, medical leadership and connection, resilience, diabetes treatment in 2023, improving outcomes in COPD diagnosis, benign vulvo-vaginal disorders and bariatric surgery and its role in managing obesity and much more.  

The Conference is renowned for offering a successful Partner and Children's Program to allow the whole family to come along and make memories, with the kids enjoying coastal activities and a trip to Luna Park while partners were given the rare opportunity to indulge in self-care, massages and rejuvenation.  

A number of political representatives were also in attendance including the Rural Health Commissioner, Assistant Minister for Rural Health, members of Parliament and Head of the Country Mayor’s Association.  

“They’re here to listen and participate, watch and learn and that’s what I am most appreciative of,” Richard explained when asked why so many political figures attended this year’s conference.  

“This is not a politically orientated event; it’s actually about the people doing the work. But one thing we have noticed over the last couple of years, particularly around the NSW Rural Health Inquiry, is that it’s also very important to create a dialogue, to create awareness of the issues and challenges being faced on the ground, by those that are in decision-making positions.  

“We all have a role to play in making things better and creating greater access for our people living in rural and remote communities and I feel when we’re thinking like that - thinking about the sum’s greater than the individual– the system’s going to be better.” 


Learn more and listen to Richard Colbran’s interview on the Conference Catch-Up podcast here

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