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Journal


Journal

Drought support in Australia

Royal Flying Doctor Services Young people in rural and remote communities frequently missing out Knowing the Issues Impacts of pest animals Dairy farmers doing it tough as milk production hits 21-year low ABN: 336 067 377 31 PH:0434 332 108 e: accounts@ruralsupportjournal.com.au PO BOX 119 MURWILLUMBAH NSW 2484 The information in this magazine is voluntarily provided as a public service. it has been prepared in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be both reliable and accurate at the time of publication. However, the accuracy of the data cannot be guaranteed and “RURAL SUPPORT JOURNAL� disclaims liability for any act or omission done or not done in reliance on this data and for any consequences, directly or indirectly arising from this act or omission. Intended as a guide only. Readers should obtain their own independent advice.


​​Drought support in Australia Drought—a recurring feature of the Australian landscape—is one of the biggest challenges farmers face and has a significant impact on agricultural output, productivity and on-farm incomes.​​The Australian Government is committed to supporting farm families, farm businesses and rural communities who are doing it tough. In recent years, the Australian, state and territory governments have been working together to reform drought policy to make sure farmers are better supported to prepare for drought, as well as providing in-drought assistance when needed. Building on the reform process and the range of assistance already available, in July 2015 the Australian Government announced the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, which includes a number of additional measures to help farmers prepare for, manage through and recover from drought. These measures cover a range of activities including concessional loans, taxation measures, enhanced social support and local community infrastructure projects. Farmers can use many of the new, practical White Paper initiatives not only to manage drought, but the broad range of production and business risks they face. While most of these measures are being delivered by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, some are being delivered by other government agencies such as the Department of Human Services, the Department of Social Services, and the Australian Taxation Office. Some programmes are also being delivered by state and territory governments.

INFORMATION SOURCED FROM http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought


The Royal Flying Doctor Service’s Mission:

To provide excellence in aeromedical and primary health care across Australia

How they do it

The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (RFDS) is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in the world. Using the latest in aviation, medical and communications technology, we deliver extensive primary health care and 24-hour emergency service to those who live, work and travel throughout Australia.

Emergency Aeromedical Retrieval The RFDS provides emergency evacuations throughout rural and remote Australia for people who are seriously ill or injured and require urgent medical attention.

We provide quality medical treatment on the ground, and use a dedicated aircraft when we need to transport patients to an appropriate hospital for any further treatment. INFORMATION SOURCED FROM www.flyingdoctor.org.au


In 2014/2015, the RFDS provided 4,336 emergency evacuations. This essential emergency service provides assurance to people living, working and travelling in rural and remote Australia, where there are often few other health services available.

GP and Nurse Clinics Clinics

Rural and remote Australia is characterised by small, widely dispersed populations - and a lack of easy access to primary health care services. The RFDS works to overcome this, providing regular fly-in fly-out GP, Nursing and AlliedHealth Clinics to rural and remote communities. In many of the locations where these clinics are provided, the RFDS is the only provider of health care services -- and takes the place of ‘local’ providers. As a result, the RFDS delivers health care services to the people and families throughout their whole lives. In 2014/2015, the RFDS facilitated 15,0248 clinics and saw 135,074 patients.

INFORMATION SOURCED FROM www.flyingdoctor.org.au


About the RFDS

The Royal Flying Doctor Service is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in the world, providing extensive primary health care and 24-hour emergency service to people over an area of 7.3 million square kilometres. Delivered by a dedicated team of professionals, using the latest in aviation, medical and communications technology, and supported by a vast number of volunteers and supporters, the RFDS is vital for those that live, work and travel in rural and remote Australia.

What RFDS do

Using the latest in aviation, medical and communications technology, the Royal Flying Doctor Service works to provide emergency medical and primary health care services to anyone who lives, works or travels in rural and remote Australia.

The services we offer

Medical services needed by people living in rural and remote areas of Australia are no different to services required in our large cities, but the vast distances that small rural populations have to overcome to access health services, provide a real challenge. The Royal Flying Doctor Service works to assist country Australians in many ways. INFORMATION SOURCED FROM www.flyingdoctor.org.au


With a waiting room of 7.13 million square kilometres, the RFDS provides 24-hour aeromedical emergency services that can reach anywhere, no matter how remote, within hours. Combined with telehealth consultations, fly-in fly-out GP and Nurse clinics, mobile dental services, patient transfers, and a myriad of other health services, the RFDS is constantly working to see that those living in rural and remote areas can enjoy the same health outcomes as those living in city areas.

Oral health

A large proportion of people living in remote and rural Australia do not have access to a regular dental service. Recognising the important link between oral health and overall health, over recent years the RFDS has established oral health services in parts of remote and rural Australia. These services are provided using fly-in fly-out, mobile and outreach deliver models, and funded by state governments, private investments, or the use of donor funds In 2014-15, the RFDS provided oral health services through 11 different programs in all states and territories (except the ACT) and there were 9,845 episodes of dental care provided.

INFORMATION SOURCED FROM www.flyingdoctor.org.au


Mental health

Good mental health is important for everyone and while people living in country Australia are often characterised as being naturally resilient, like everyone they can experience tough times. RFDS CEO Martin Laverty said “One in five Australians experience a mental disorder each year. In remote and rural Australia, that means 960,000 each year deal with their mental health. Yet country people can’t access the same services as people in the city.” “There’s no difference in prevalence of mental illness between city and bush. Yet Flying Doctor research reveals dramatic differences in how sick people become. Poor service access, distance, cost, and continued reluctance to seek help all contribute to higher mental illness acuity.” Accessing mental health services in rural and remote areas can often be very difficult, with people living in these areas being even more isolated in times of need. Through funding provided by governments and donors, the RFDS works to bridge this gap in access to mental health services. Through regular GP clinics, RFDS doctors provide ongoing mental health care. At the same time dedicated RFDS mental health professionals visit remote towns and properties to provide further treatment, support, as well as education aboutmental health issues for individuals and communities.

INFORMATION SOURCED FROM www.flyingdoctor.org.au


INFORMATION SOURCED FROM www.flyingdoctor.org.au


Young people in rural and remote communities frequently missing out

Australia is yet to overcome the enormous challenge of providing quality education to those outside urban centres. While only 10 per cent of Australians live in rural and remote areas, this population is spread across a vast continent with one of the lowest population densities in the world.

The evidence shows there is a consistent link between where Australians live and their educational outcomes at all stages of education, with those living in rural and remote communities doing worse than students in urban areas. To date, many of the policies in place to address this have been ineffective. Educational opportunity in Australia 2015 is one of the most comprehensive data studies of Australia’s education system. It examines young people’s progress on four key educational milestones, from the early years right through to young adulthood.

“The proportion of very remote students who meet each education milestone is between 19 and 48 percentage points lower than the general population.”


Key findings *The proportion of very remote students who meet the requirements at each milestone is between 19 and 48 percentage points lower than for the Australian population as a whole. *Students living further from cities are less likely to catch up once they are off track at a milestone. *Rural and remote students have reduced access to education services compared to metropolitan students. These students attend school less frequently, are less likely to go to university and are more likely to drop out if they enrol. *Remote students have less positive dispositions towards school on every measure (belonging, self-confidence, purpose and perseverance) than their regional and metropolitan peers. *Vocational education and training (VET) is an important pathway for regional and remote students, though very remote participation is low. Nearly one third of remote and outer regional students undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship. *Remote communities are home to one-quarter of Australia’s Indigenous population. As a consequence, the educational challenges faced in remote areas have a disproportionate impact on Indigenous Australians.

What does this tell us? The research shows a clear relationship between location and educational outcomes in Australia for each of the four milestones. With a population spread across such a vast country, Australia struggles to provide high quality education to its rural and remote communities. These communities present the dual challenges of isolation and low population density. Rural and remote areas must cope with issues around funding, workforce recruitment and retention, access to services and fostering engagement across diverse, widely-dispersed communities. INFORMATION SOURCED FROM http://www.mitchellinstitute.org.au/fact-sheets/young-people-in-rural-and-remotecommunities-frequently-missing-out/


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Knowing the Issues

New and Old Issues in Rural and Remote Health

About one-third of Australia’s population lives in regional, rural, and remote areas. That is around 7 million people. On average, they don’t enjoy the same high standard of health and wellbeing as those who live in the cities, or the same access to health services and healthrelated infrastructure. There are a range of issues involved and it is the rural and remote people themselves who are best placed to understand the issues and to generate and manage solutions. The return of the Turnbull Government following the 2016 Federal Election has resulted in significant impetus for rural health. Key among their election promises was to establish the role of a Rural Health Commissioner who would take responsibility for rural workforce issues including developing the Rural Health Generalist Pathway nationally. The mal-distribution of the medical, dental and health workforce in Australia is a key barrier in the delivery of effective, comprehensive health care. There is a need for serious action to address the workforce needs in rural and remote communities, and the Rural Health Commissioner will be well placed to champion this. Addressing the health deficit in rural and remote Australia requires more than addressing the distribution of the health workforce. There is great need for the Rural Health Commissioner to also champion initiatives that will: *Support place-based approaches to meet local community health needs. *Engage with and support the rural and remote Primary Health Networks in their work *Engage with the social determinants of health and develop, promote and support actions to address these underlying causes of the health deficit in rural and remote Australia *Engage with, support and promote policies to address the growing burden of chronic disease in rural and remote Australia INFORMATION SOURCED FROM http://ruralhealth.org.au/advocacy/knowing-the-issues


*Work across the sector to develop key indicators of rural health and report annually on progress in addressing the rural health deficit *Champion the need for investment in rural health and the potential for considerable return on that investment. Nationally, fiscal circumstances remain tight, with Commonwealth, state and territory governments all professing to be under-resourced. Commonwealth funding can only be found for new initiatives by finding savings from existing expenditure. The health sector reviews undertaken in the previous Parliament have identified a range of strategic areas of focus in rural health policy. The review of the MBS continues, although it seems unlikely that major savings can be generated quickly to free money for important new proposals. Among the areas where additional expenditure is desperately needed are mental health, chronic diseases and oral or dental health. In these areas, needs are particularly pressing for people in rural and remote areas. The work of the Primary Health Care Advisory Group, chaired by Dr Steve Hambleton, is one of the drivers for change, recommending the staged implementation of Health Care Homes (HCH) to address complex and chronic care needs. HCH will make use of mixed payments and additional subsidies to participating practices, GPs and Aboriginal Medical Services. It will be coordinated through ten Primary Health Networks, of which half have substantial rural and/or remote constituents. It is important that evaluation of progress is undertaken over a prolonged period (3-5 years) to enable an accurate accounting of the potential effect on unnecessary hospitalisations. Given the underlying importance of governments’ financial capacities, anyone interested in the volume and effectiveness of health services must be more confident in seeing themselves as advocates for the sort of major economic change which will bring an end to the situation in which there is “no new money for good health ideas� and must become more engaged in the health economics of the issue and the way in which health effects other sectors of society (eg economic productivity). INFORMATION SOURCED FROM http://ruralhealth.org.au/advocacy/knowing-the-issues


Expenditure on health services should be seen as an investment in future productivity and reduced health spending, rather than merely as a current fiscal liability. In the absence of leadership from governments on a holistic approach to health and well-being, regional and local entities must step-up to demonstrate that close collaboration between education, employment, health, housing and transport is not only possible but also most desirable. Championing this integrated approach to health could be a role that would fit within the purview of the Rural Health Commissioner. Another strategic activity of importance, particularly to rural and remote regions, is the government’s planning and aspirations for the further development of Northern Australia. It is currently unclear whether this will be an ongoing focus of the Turnbull Government. The Alliance is on the record as saying that health and well-being services must be a significant part of this, not only because they will provide a productive workforce for industry in the North, but also because it is itself a major employer. At various places on this website you will find information about the disadvantages faced by people, on average, in rural and remote areas. There is a health care deficit of $2.1 billion in rural and remote areas (based on 2005 data), reflecting relatively poor access to Medicare, the PBS and publicly-provided allied health services.

INFORMATION SOURCED FROM http://ruralhealth.org.au/advocacy/knowing-the-issues


Impacts of pest animals Pest animals have significant economic, environmental and social impacts. They have the potential to adversely alter ecosystem function, reduce primary industry productivity and profitability, and threaten human and animal health.

Economic impacts

Pest animals reduce the viability of primary industries, which account for a significant proportion of Queensland´s export income. The impacts of some animals are well documented; however, the true cost of pest animals to Queensland’s economy is unknown and difficult to quantify. Feral pigs alone have been estimated to reduce grain production by $12 million a year. Wild dogs cost $33 million a year in livestock losses, diseases spread and control. Negative economic impacts of pest animals include: • direct control and management costs • predation of livestock by wild dogs, foxes and feral pigs • competition for resources • destruction of natural resources through soil disturbance and removal of vegetation • destruction of pastures and crops • creation of general nuisance in urban and rural residential areas and associated management • reduction of nature-based tourism due to destruction of natural resources. Many pest animals are susceptible to, and could act as carriers for, a range of exotic diseases including foot-and-mouth, African swine fever and rabies. If these diseases were to enter Australia they would affect livestock and humans, and the cost of control and management would be considerable. INFORMATION SOURCED FROM www.daf.qld.gov.au/plants/weeds-pest-animals-ants/pest-animals/impacts-of-pest-animals


Environmental impacts Introduced pest animals place considerable pressure on native plants and animals. While some impacts have been well documented, the true impact of pest animals on Queensland’s environment is unknown and difficult to quantify. Negative environmental impacts include: • direct predation on native fauna - foxes and feral cats have been implicated in the decline or extinction of at least 17 native species • destruction of habitats and natural resources including reduction in water • quality, increased soil erosion and land degradation, and destruction of native plants that provide food and shelter to native species • competition with native animals for food and shelter • poisoning of native animals and spreading disease - the decline of native • predators has been attributed to poisoning from cane toads. Some pest animals impact on specific habitats or species; others are more general and affect many species, ecosystems and ecological and physical processes. These impacts can lead to reduced populations of native species, a decline in the quality and quantity of their habitats, and ultimately the extinction of some native species.

INFORMATION SOURCED FROM www.daf.qld.gov.au/plants/weeds-pest-animals-ants/pest-animals/impacts-of-pest-animals


Environmental impacts Introduced pest animals place considerable pressure on native plants and animals. While some impacts have been well documented, the true impact of pest animals on Queensland’s environment is unknown and difficult to quantify. Negative environmental impacts include: • direct predation on native fauna - foxes and feral cats have been implicated in the decline or extinction of at least 17 native species • destruction of habitats and natural resources including reduction in water • quality, increased soil erosion and land degradation, and destruction of native plants that provide food and shelter to native species • competition with native animals for food and shelter • poisoning of native animals and spreading disease - the decline of native • predators has been attributed to poisoning from cane toads. Some pest animals impact on specific habitats or species; others are more general and affect many species, ecosystems and ecological and physical processes. These impacts can lead to reduced populations of native species, a decline in the quality and quantity of their habitats, and ultimately the extinction of some native species. Social impacts The social impacts of pest animals are many and varied and can cost individuals and the government considerable sums of money. Pest animals can create a general nuisance and interfere with the livability of an area, particularly in urban and rural residential areas. Negative social impacts include: • potential and actual disease transmission • predation of, and attacks on, domestic poultry and small pets • creation of dangerous driving conditions - pest animals often wander onto roads, and locust swarms reduce visibility • reduction of the community’s enjoyment of natural areas • general nuisance and disturbance in urban areas. INFORMATION SOURCED FROM www.daf.qld.gov.au/plants/weeds-pest-animals-ants/pest-animals/impacts-of-pest-animals


INFORMATION SOURCED FROM www.climatecouncil.org.au/ruralreport


INFORMATION SOURCED FROM www.climatecouncil.org.au/ruralreport


Dairy farmers doing it tough as milk production hits 21-year low

Despite droughts, floods, deregulation and a global financial crisis in recent memory, the dairy industry has never had it as tough as this financial year. According to Dairy Australia’s Situation and Outlook report, released today, farmers are likely to produce 700 million fewer litres of milk this year than last year, marking the lowest production in 21 years. Not since 1995-1996 have Australian dairy farmers produced fewer than 9 billion litres of milk. It is predicted this financial year the Australian industry will produce 8.8 billion litres. Low world markets, a sudden and retrospective price drop by major processors Fonterra and Murray Goulburn, and tough, wet weather conditions in winter are all to blame for the significant drop in production. Victoria hit hard by crisis Dairy Australia senior analyst John Droppert said the key dairy region of northern Victoria had borne the brunt of the dairy crisis.

“They’re down around 18 per cent in total volume terms, which is a pretty big volume of milk,” he said.

The drop in milk production also makes it difficult for milk processors to keep an adequate throughput of raw milk into their factories. “Less milk inevitably means there is less product available to capitalise on a rising market,” Mr Droppert said. “That’s a problem for processors and ultimately it’s a problem for farmers.” Mr Droppert believes the tension over milk supply makes processors compete harder in the price they pay farmers for milk. INFORMATION SOURCED FROM http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2017-02-22/australian-milk-production-lowest-in-21-years/8292426


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