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Sustainable workforce and sustainable health systems for rural and remote Australia

This is a republished version of an article previously published in MJA Open

Lack of access to quality health care providers is one of the primary root causes of health inequity and is disproportionately experienced by people living in remote and rural communities.1

Recruiting and retaining an appropriately skilled health workforce in sufficient numbers is a central plank of rural health policies and programs globally. Currently in Australia, there is tension between national health workforce policy initiatives designed to address the rural workforce problem and several broader countervailing demographic, socioeconomic and political forces. National policies, on the one hand, offer various incentives to take up practice in rural and remote areas; have increased numbers of training places for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals; have provided rural student scholarships; have restrictive elements that account for the high proportion of international medical graduates in rural Australia; and have fostered the development of regional academic infrastructure designed to provide students with rural and remote-based…