What is the Rural Health Outreach Fund?
The Rural Health Outreach Fund is a grant opportunity that aims to improve health outcomes for people living in regional, rural and remote locations by supporting the delivery of outreach health activities.
This Rural Health Outreach Fund grant opportunity will provide funding for the continuation of the Rural Health Outreach Fund to improve the health outcomes for people living in regional, rural and remote locations by supporting the delivery of outreach health activities in Modified Monash Model (MMM) locations 3-7.
There are four identified health priorities under the Rural Health Outreach Fund:
- Maternity and paediatric health;
- Eye health;
- Mental health; and
- Support for chronic disease management, including chronic pain management.
The Rural Health Outreach Fund is administered by jurisdictional fundholders who are responsible for an annual needs assessment and prioritisation of services to ensure they are provided where they are needed. Fundholders organise health practitioner visits to areas of need including booking appointments, ensuring clinical facilities are available at the outreach location and arranging and paying for travel, accommodation and other expenses. The support offered by fundholders on behalf of the Rural Health Outreach Fund may extend to backfilling salaried health professionals or providing funding for a locum for private health professionals, thereby reducing the financial disincentives that may otherwise result in a barrier to service delivery by the health professional.
The objectives of the Rural Health Outreach Fund are to:
- provide both public and private outreach health services that address prioritised community needs;
- broaden the range and choice of health services available in regional, rural and remote locations; and
- remove the financial disincentives that create barriers to service provision.
The intended outcomes of the grant opportunity are to:
- improve access to health services (particularly in remote locations);
- reduce costs to patients accessing health services locally; and
- strengthen the capacity of primary care through upskilling of health professionals.
The Australian Government has announced a total funding of up to $115.11 million (GST exclusive) over four financial years from 2020-21 to 2023-24 available to existing Rural Health Outreach Fund fund-holders as shown below and listed under Section 4.1. Funding will be allocated to fund-holders in the same proportion as in 2019-20.
The following activities will be eligible for funding under this grant opportunity:
- Ensuring the delivery of Outreach health activities including:
- Specialist medical services;
- Allied health services;
- Midwife and nursing services;
- Combinations of eligible services (i.e., multidisciplinary teams);
- Outreach GP services, including support for female GPs to provide outreach services to broaden the health service choices available to rural women; and
- Administration and coordination of these services.
The outreach services should focus on the four identified health priorities under the RHOF.
The Rural Health Outreach Fund supports cultural training for outreach service provides and encourages providers to offer upskilling activities at outreach locations.
As a result of exceptional circumstances, such as during a natural disaster or emergency, commissioned service providers may need to identify alternative methods of service delivery or undertake additional activities to provide support for outreach services to affected areas, if approved by the Department.
Your grant activities must be delivered in the following locations:
- each state and territory fundholder will provide services supported through the RHOF in MM 3-7 locations (MMM Locator). The main emphasis of the RHOF is to deliver services in MM 4 to MM 7
- there may be exceptions where the Department will consider MM 1 and MM 2 locations if the location is clearly remote from existing services and infrastructure, or where the delivery of a service in a major city location will enhance service access for eligible communities.
To be eligible you must be one of the following organisations:
- General Practice Queensland Limited
- New South Wales Rural Doctors Network Limited
- Department of Health Northern Territory
- Rural Doctors Workforce Agency Incorporated
- Rural Workforce Agency; Victoria Limited
- Department of Health and Human Services Tasmania
- Western Australia Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine Limited
- Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
The listed organisations are eligible to receive funding on the basis that they have been assessed to have the:
- capability to continue to provide health services to Australians living in regional, rural and remote communities through their current planned RHOF activities, needs assessments and annual service plans;
- capability to deliver the project activities in the project location;
- existing infrastructure and relationships to support the project activities; and
- knowledge of and capability to deliver the project objectives and outcomes.
The listed organisations, which are existing fund-holders, have demonstrated strong, long-standing relationships with service providers, health professionals, state and territory health authorities, Indigenous health organisations and local hospitals, community based services and local communities. They have well-established infrastructure and are innovative in delivering integrated health solutions to deliver the RHOF. Over time, the listed organisations have developed streamlined, integrated and coordinated service delivery approaches, have improved patient pathways, and have demonstrated value for money.
These organisations should consider the impact of COVID-19 on their capability to continue to deliver eligible activities and ensure that relevant risk mitigation strategies are in place.
Applications close 02 June 2020.