6 August 2019
The Western Australian Centre for Rural Health (WACRH) of The University of Western Australia has worked tirelessly over the past two decades to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in rural and remote locations across the state.
To commemorate the milestone, the Centre is hosting an ‘Ocean to Outback: 20 Years of Rural Health (1999-2019) Research Symposium’ in Geraldton on Tuesday 10 September 2019.
The keynote speaker will be former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda.
A descendent of the Gangulu people from the Dawson Valley of Central Queensland, Mr Gooda has been actively involved in Indigenous affairs throughout Australia for the last 30 years.
The symposium will show case the Centre’s contributions to research relevant to the health of rural populations and Aboriginal Australians.
It will cover some of the Centre's initiatives to improve health challenges faced by rural and remote communities in Western Australia and bring together current and former researchers, staff and collaborative partners to celebrate its achievements and look to the future.
Established as the Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health in 1999, the Centre was the first University Department of Rural Health in Western Australia.
Representatives of the now
The inaugural Director Ann Larson lead the Centre for 11 years, establishing partnerships that supported allied health and nursing students to complete their clinical placements in rural and remote settings.
"Better health outcomes for regional, rural and remote communities delivered through stronger health services with confident and skilled health care professionals can take a long time to achieve but it does happen when people and organisations work together,” says Ann Larson of the history of the Centre.
The subsequent and current Director Professor Sandra Thompson has overseen a period of growth in facilities, education programs and accommodation throughout the Midwest and Pilbara regions, as well as robust research programs and community development programs targeting the social determinants of health.
In 2014 the Centre was renamed Western Australian Centre for Rural Health (WACRH).
"WACRH's programs are based upon partnerships with people, universities, health providers, services, non-government organisations and community members,” says Professor Thompson.
“When we have a shared vision and work together, we can achieve great things."
These collaborative partnerships assist with developing health and community programs that can benefit the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities across the state and other rural and remote regions nationally.
The Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Western Australia Professor Wendy Erber congratulates both past and present staff on the important contributions they have made to the advancement of knowledge and applying it to improve some of the more unique health challenges faced by rural communities.
"WACRH offers outstanding learning opportunities for students and is at the forefront of rural, remote and Aboriginal health research, education, student support and community service activities," says Professor Erber.
Health science students from universities around Australia benefit from the Centres well supported rural placements and there is evidence that this can translate into workforce outcomes.