On the 7th of September Rural and Remote Mental Health joined forces with the AstraZeneca team to host a webinar that spoke of the access of healthcare in rural Australia. ‘Real Challenges of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Communities’ addressed the evident gap of healthcare between remote Australians and those living in metropolitan areas. RRMH CEO, Joe Hooper, coordinated three key speakers who have extensive experience working and living in these areas. Joe’s own experience in mental health work and passion for increased support for all Australians pulled the perfect collaboration together and started a well overdue conversation.

Julia Yeow is the Manager of External Partnerships and Corporate Affairs for AstraZeneca, who worked closely with the RRMH team to organise the webinar that hosted 180 AstraZeneca employees eager to learn of the challenges faced by the speakers and those they work with or treat.

“The purpose of the webinar on access to healthcare was to educate AstraZeneca employees on the challenges that Australians living in remote regions of the country face in accessing healthcare. This awareness and educational training event is aligned with our desire to lead on actions to improve healthcare access to all Australians, including First Nations people,” said Julia.

“A total of 180 people logged in to the webinar, which is one of the highest turnout for any internal educational event we have run. Many employees across the organisation have reached out to us to express how passionate they feel about the inequity that some Australians face in healthcare access, and all have expressed their desire to be allies, to seek opportunities to change the system, and to do more to educate those around them”.

Susan Wearne is a General Practitioner, Clinical Associate Professor of ANU Medical School and an integral part of the Health System Resourcing Group within the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care. She spent time as a GP for the Royal Flying Doctor and in Alice Springs. Susan spoke to the health workforce and graduate statistics in Australia, our GP services per capita, rural training programs, and the unique challenges of working in such remote areas.

“It was a privilege to talk with the group and share some of my outback story. It’s great that AZ staff are interested to know more and to understand the magic but also painful stark realities of rural life. As an outback GP you can get the best and the worst of life at the same time,” said Susan.

Annabelle Brayley is a former rural nurse and best-selling author of Nurses of the Outback and Bush Doctors. Her captivating and powerful tributes to those working as healthcare professionals in the outback is a nod to her own experience and appreciation of life on the land. Annabelle queried the audience on their wait times to see a GP and how far they have to travel for an appointment to show the distinct difference between metropolitan and rural areas.

“I believe it’s imperative that rural and remote Australians have opportunities to speak and advocate directly with city centric organisations, governments or bureaucrats. I applaud RRMH and AstraZeneca for embracing this particular conversation with professionals who have lived experience and, in particular, for including a grass roots, community voice. Too often, the residents of rural and remote Australia, who are the recipients of any services, are the last, if ever, consulted. On any level, good solid mental wellness begins with inclusion,” said Annabelle.

Georgie Corrie is a proud Noongar woman, Aboriginal Health Advocate and Living a Good Life Manager. Through a series of images Georgie was able to demonstrate the difficulties of life in the Northern Territory, from walking large distances for phone service to the unbelievable cost for indigenous people to get home during difficult times. The sheer isolation and vast distances that need to be travelled for simple supplies and medical assistance was eye opening.

“I think we can all agree 90 minutes discussing the challenges of rural and remote life scratches at only the tip of the iceberg. Thank you so much to the AstraZeneca team for zooming in and becoming part of the conversation and gaining insight and thank you to the tireless work of RRMH team for shining a light to these challenges and providing support and resources. Together we can all change the story for Australians living rurally and remote,” said Georgie.

If you know someone who is needing support and wanting someone to talk to, please reach out to the below.

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

Lifeline 13 11 14

13YARN 13 92 76