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National rural health conferences have contributed to a number of major policy and program developments and have helped build the national strategy for rural general practice. The aim of this conference was to provide an opportunity to assess progress with this strategy, the lessons learned, and how to apply these lessons to advance the interests of other health professionals. The conference aimed to reflect on contemporary remote and rural health environments, emerging issues, and the interests of health consumers, service providers, researchers and policy makers from all relevant sectors. Presentations included contributions from and about health service managers, allied health professionals, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and nurses.
Ten key recommendations were endorsed by delegates and are being put forward as a basis for improving health in remote and rural Australia. The full set of recommendations provides an overview of suggestions for better health generated by various sessions and papers before and during the 8th National Rural Health Conference.
The 8th National Rural Health Conference, 10 -13 March 2005, was the largest ever public meeting on remote and rural health. Held at Alice Springs Convention Centre, Northern Territory, it was attended by 1,100 delegates from around Australia including health service providers, students and consumers.
Internet access for all conference delegates was provided at the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet exhibition stand, with Telstra Country Wide providing Internet connectivity. Diana Hay from the Aboriginal & Islander Health Worker Journal and Jane Burns from the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet also ran a joint display with information about the two organisations. A HealthInfoNet cafe was run about web-based Aboriginal health information particularly related to rural and remote health, and other HealthInfoNet services such as training and website development. Delegates were encouraged to visit all the exhibition booths.