With approximately 25 per cent of the APA membership living outside urban areas, the APA recognises the need to provide equitable services to these members. The APA continues to demonstrate a strong commitment and support for rural and remote members, and continues its role in advocating for equitable access to physiotherapy services for consumers. To meet the challenge of service provision to rural and remote members, the APA convened a working party to develop a model to address some of the inequities experienced by members. The premise for this new model recognises that although it is impossible to provide the same services equitably to all members, the APA endorses a policy to provide services ‘delivered in different ways’ as a way of providing equity to rural and remote members.
Special services for rural and remote members include:
- Access to over 1000 online journals via the APA website, subscribed to for the benefit of rural and remote members.
- Access to professional development courses at special rates, with places held for rural and remote members.
- Professional development programs developed for rural and remote members using distance education models including video link-ups and satellite broadcasts.
- Free membership of rural groups—rural and remote members are automatically designated by postcode to their Regional Group (RG).
- Annual budget allocation by branches for RG activities.
- Annual visits to RGs by branch council representatives or rural representatives.
- Regular communication via email or teleconferences with RG representatives.
- A rural representative or portfolio holder on each state branch council.
- Specific rural and remote representation on the National Advisory Council.
Representation on the APA Board was previously via the National Rural Issues Committee, which was a Standing Committee reporting directly to the BOD on rural and remote issues. A development from NRIC was the creation of the Rural Member’s Council (RMC). The RMC will be a body that will serve to expand the work of NRIC with a greater connection to branch councils and to the APA regional groups. It will have an annual face-to-face meeting that will provide an avenue for the RMC to provide input to the APA, and for the APA to provide updates about matters of importance to rural and remote Australia. Throughout the year, the RMC will serve in a similar way to the National Advisory Council, to enable the APA staff to the consult with the rural members around submissions and other issues that arise from time to time.
The APA remains committed to providing appropriate services to its rural and remote members, and lobbies strongly on their behalf on issues of particular concern such as workforce shortages, recruitment and retention, incentives for rural health professionals, and the urgent need to improve health services for Indigenous Australians.
To join, or for more information, contact your local branch.