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Over 2,000 Health Professional placements in remote Indigenous communities

PROJECT

Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC)

Sectors

"RAHC is doing a good job.  They provide a professional service and respond to our unique requirements."

Eric Turner, Health Centre Manager, Anyingiyi, Northern Territory.

BACKGROUND

The Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC) was established in October 2008 under a contract awarded by the Department of Health and Ageing, Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health to Aspen Medical.

RAHC is currently funded by the Department of Health and Ageing under the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Through Health budget measure to “strengthen key health workforce activities in remote Northern Territory Indigenous communities”.

RAHC was set up to “… recruit, culturally orientate and deploy health professionals to enable the provision of increased primary healthcare services to assist in addressing the shortfall in health service delivery in remote Indigenous NT communities” with a “focus on recruiting urban-based health professionals”.

In summary, RAHC is a program designed to increase the pool of urban-based health professionals available for work in Indigenous communities by attracting, recruiting and orienting them and then providing ongoing support and training to successfully assist the health professional to make the transition to remote practice.

Over time RAHC has developed a steadily increasing pool of highly motivated, effective, culturally-sensitive and clinically competent health professionals (HPs) who are keen to undertake regular placements in Australia's Northern Territory (NT). The repeat placement rate is over 80%. The remote workforce in the NT is significantly strengthened through RAHC’s existence and many health centres and programs now depend on RAHC to supply their staffing needs to supplement permanent staff. It has mobilised urban based health professionals and developed an alternative workforce for remote settings as opposed to just redistributing it from other remote or rural settings.

To date, RAHC has placed over 600 HPs in over 2,000 placements since its first placement in December 2008. This represents close to 200 man-years of healthcare to the Territory. RAHC has experienced continued growth in demand for its services. Each year the actual number of placements has exceeded the contracted maximum under the funding agreement.

CHALLENGES

  • Remote and challenging locations for health professionals
  • Sensitive political and cultural environment
  • High degree of scrutiny and expectation from communities and health services