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    I see in the program that there is a Beyondblue stream. Given that there has been a campaign in rural mental health, that to an extent has been successful at getting people talking about mental illness. Unfortunately the professional support that exists in rural areas is almost non-existent. Personally, I was over 2.5 hours drive away from the nearest psychologist who was booked straight for 4 weeks.

    It would be great to hear if anyone is looking at implementing something that came out of the Heywire forum (a rural youth forum) on that front:

    I will be following your coverage closely, it was a great idea to put it to twitter…

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    At a time when we have a first-ever National Male Health Policy and an updated National Women’s Health Policy, the focus on gender looks disappointing; with the exception perhaps of mental health, discussions of rural men’s health, in particular (issues, perspectives, strategies) looks particularly scarce.

    There is a presentation on mobile health services for women – but not for men? Seemed to be very little on men’s health promotion, health services access, screening, etc. (what’s happened to initiatives such as TuneUp and PitStop, which the Senate Committee on Men’s Health was so enthusiastic about?). Doesn’t look like anything on health literacy, either.

    ‘Health messages’, particularly those which suggest that individuals’ health would benefit from making certain ‘lifestyle’ (hate that word!) changes, can be a hard sell in rural Australia, but there doesn’t seem to be much on those sorts of issues.

    I hope that the presentations as a whole, and of course those valuable out-of-session networking opportunities, will provide a sense of what’s happening with ‘public health in the bush.’

    BTW, re the ‘innovation’ issue: Being resourceful and innovative with less is consistent with the findings of a recent European public sector innovation survey which found that a lack of resources, rather than an abundance of them, is a major driver of innovation, particularly in large organisations. (I hope that this doesn’t mean, however, that we should deliberately starve organisations and services of resources just to make them innovative!)

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    Jennifer Doggett

    Jennifer Doggett

    It all looks interesting but my picks would be Gavin Mooney’s session on citizens’ juries in rural areas and Deborah Russell’s on strengthening the evidence base for rural health workforce retention.

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    Jennifer Doggett

    Jennifer Doggett

    Also, I agree with your comments on innovation in rural areas. I cannot count how many times I have been at a health conference or seminar where someone from the city has got up and talked about an ‘innovative’ new program or practice they have developed only to have someone else from a rural setting stand up and patiently explain to us easily impressed urbanites how they have been doing exactly the same thing in their local area for years. The challenge is how to share the knowledge and innovation across settings so that regions can learn from each other rather than re-inventing the wheel (or the nurse practitioner, or the mobile population health unit, or the distance learning program etc).

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    Looks like a great program. Would be good to report on the presentation regarding young people’s sexual health. We have the national schools survey which is fantastic but this isnt very representative those living in rural and remote regions of Australia, and this baseline information is critical for those working in remote sexual health across Australia.

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    Rebecca Cook

    Yesterday Cancer Council Vic released new data about the higher melanoma rates in rural Victoria and we have just launched a campaign to raise awareness about skin cancer among farmers –

    We would like to ask any policy-makers in attendance when a national program for skin cancer prevention will be developed?


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