Rural Regional Roundtable: Building a case for change in regional Victoria
June 24, 2022
On Tuesday 21 June the VHA welcomed over 60 health board directors, executives, and senior leaders from rural and regional VHA member organisations to our third Rural Regional Roundtable (RRR). During the session members were invited to share sector-wide challenges and prioritise policy concepts for the upcoming state election in November. Thank you, members, for your contributions and collective insights on key challenges across the system.
As summarised in this report, discussion was based around the three election themes: infrastructure, workforce, and funding.
Eighty-six per cent of members described the state of their infrastructure as high concern or critical; 27 per cent of which reported that infrastructure needs often prevent service delivery capacity.
Identified infrastructure challenges include:
- Unclear distribution of infrastructure funding across the state.
- Lack of transparency reduces ability for services to manage capital assets.
- High incidence of ageing infrastructure no longer ‘fit for purpose’.
- Lack of digital infrastructure to support introduction of virtual services.
- Lack of resilient infrastructure to withstand increased climate-related extreme weather events.
- Limited access to local capital infrastructure expertise.
Through consultation and analysis, the VHA presented four areas of focus to take to the November election on infrastructure. Members had the opportunity to demonstrate their support for the focus areas through Slido, the results of which are represented in our summary.
Workforce challenges include:
- Housing supply compounded workforce shortages and was identified as a major barrier to people relocating to the area.
- System-wide workforce models do not support the rural and regional service environment.
- Inability to provide competitive remuneration to attract staff.
- Trend of skilled workers leaving to join the private sector.
Following presentations from the VHA Policy and Advocacy team, members joined breakout room discussions to discuss funding policy priorities.
Identified funding challenges include:
- Unviable and unfair Urgent Care Centre funding mechanism.
- Failure of funding to match regional reality and costs.
- Emphasis on activity-based funding and payment in arrears.
- State and federal funding disputes.
- Pandemic impact and inflation.
Feedback shared at the RRR session will directly inform our state election policy platform set to be released in the second half of the year. We will also continue to position our advocacy through the media and are grateful for any case studies or examples members are willing to share with us that support our policy narrative on workforce, infrastructure, and funding.
If you have any further comments or ideas to share for media stories, please contact a member of our team at firstname.lastname@example.org