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37 Partyline, Number 39, June 2010 NEWS FROM DOHA Beyond Healthy Horizons Development of a new National Strategic Framework for Rural and Remote Health Since 1999, the Healthy Horizons framework has provided the national direction for the delivery of health services across rural, regional and remote Australia. Developed with the NRHA and endorsed by Commonwealth and State Health Ministers, Healthy Horizons outlined the objectives and priorities for improving the health of Australians in rural, regional and remote communities. In January 2009, following a review of the Healthy Horizons framework, the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC) agreed to develop a new National Strategic Framework for Rural and Remote Health. The project was tasked to the AHMAC Rural Health Standing Committee (RHSC), with the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing assigned as the lead agency. The new National Strategic Framework aims to develop a national approach to the major issues currently facing rural health services, particularly access, sustainability, health workforce, service delivery models, and collaborative planning and policy development. The Framework will also target some of the more urgent and pressing service priority areas in rural and remote health, namely: maternity services; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health; emergency care; health promotion and prevention; chronic disease management; drugs and alcohol; mental health; oral health; and aged care/older persons. To strengthen key aspects of the Framework, the project will also investigate: the feasibility of defined performance indicators and performance targets in areas requiring national consistency and coordination; and possible funding options. As in the development of Healthy Horizons, the NRHA have been involved in the development of the new Framework, joining the RHSC in workshops in June and November 2009 to develop the general content and scope of the new Framework. A clear message from stakeholders was the need for the inclusion of aged care services as part of the new Framework. In December 2009, consultant Siggins Miller was engaged by the Commonwealth on behalf of the RHSC to facilitate the consultation process and assist in drafting the new Framework. Consultations with stakeholders were conducted in February and March 2010 with a wide range of rural health stakeholders from government and non-government organisations providing input via workshops, direct interviews and written submissions. Reporting back to the RHSC on the outcomes of the consultation phase of the project, Siggins Miller advised that a clear message from stakeholders was the need for the inclusion of aged care services as part of the new Framework. In response to this advice, the RHSC agreed to include aged care/older persons as a specific service priority under the new Framework. The project is now in its final phase of data analysis and development of content for the draft Framework. Project timeframes are being reviewed to allow for the additional work on aged care/older persons, review and feedback on the draft Framework by stakeholders, and to ensure the new Framework aligns with the national health care reforms agreed at the Council of Australian Governments in April 2010 and announced as part of the 2010-11 Federal Budget. The NRHA will have further opportunities to review the draft Framework and provide further feedback. The final draft Framework will then go to the RHSC to commence the formal process of approval and submission to AHMAC in the latter half of this year. Ultimately, the Framework will be presented to the Australian Health Ministers for their endorsement. Developing a successor to Healthy Horizons. PHOTO: SARAH SCOTT36