Health services in Australia are part of a universal system available to everyone. Although there may be a fee, generally services are subsidized by government. Health services in rural and regional areas tend to be harder to access due to a lack of practitioners and the need in the rural areas to travel some distance to see specialists or access out-of-hours services unless they can be serviced through tele-health.
Community and social services offer support to the public. The support may be information, advice, emotional support, practical help, financial help, or a combination of services. The community service may be run by federal, state, or local government or by a non-government organisation such as a charity. Generally, community services are either free or low-cost. Access to these services is again variable, dependant on location. Generally, in rural areas and to a degree in the regional centres, these services become much harder to access or are non-existent. Where they do exist, travel/cost becomes an issue, especially if multiple services are needed and they are in locations far apart. Certainly, Accessibility, Connections, and Flexibility are important principles in this element.
Due to CoVid 19, access to services has become more problematic. While an increase in telehealth has in some ways helped overcome access issues, this has not helped those who are not able to access consistent or reliable internet. The impact on employment (as many people in rural/regional areas rely on tourism) has also meant that many cannot afford services, despite them being subsidized.
An aging population in rural/regional areas means more people are reliant on savings or government income and the economy has been slowed, with less interest on savings. At the same time, their need for and reliance on health/community services increase. Governments have been under pressure due to the pandemic, so many services have been shut or scaled back, impacting this element.
There are a multitude of policies that impact on this element. Specific groups that may be impacted include: Children, young people, Women, Men, Families, Senior citizens, People with disabilities, the Homeless, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, Immigrants and refugees, those in crisis (domestic abuse, financial, coping in the aftermath of an emergency), and People with specific health or medical problems. For some specific policies, please refer to Policy Reviews – Southwest PCP
If you have any information to add to this element, please submit it via the following form: