APA member presents honours findings on rural community access to health

29 May 2015

Jessica Langham

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the health of Australians living in rural and remote areas is generally poorer than those living in major cities, with the mortality rate of Australians living in rural and remote regions 10 per cent higher than those living in major cities.

This week Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) member Jessica Langham presented her groundbreaking honours project, Physical activity for rural residing children with disabilities: perceptions of parents/carers, at the National Rural Health Conference at the Darwin Convention Centre in the Northern Territory.

Ms. Langham, a new graduate physiotherapist working in small town Macksville, undertook her honours project in her final year of university in Tamworth, country New South Wales. Her study is the first of its kind in Australia to specifically investigate parents’ and carers’ perceptions of physical activity undertaken by rurally residing children with disabilities and the barriers preventing participation.

“My honours project provided evidence that rurally residing children with a disability are not undertaking the recommended amount of daily physical activity and face added barriers to participation,” said Langham.

“Three main themes emerged as barriers to participation, which were segregation, access to facilities/resources and barriers specific to the child.”

Ms. Langham hopes that her research can be replicated on a larger scale to delve further into the barriers preventing participation for rurally residing children with disabilities.

“I have a strong belief that health should be equal for all no matter where someone lives or their heritage,” said Langham.

APA Chief Executive Officer Cris Massis said: “Physiotherapists form a vital part of health care teams in rural and remote areas. The skills and training of physiotherapists mean they are capable of working with a wide variety of conditions and disabilities to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals, but unfortunately with the majority of physiotherapists working in major cities, this has resulted in a shortage of physiotherapists in rural and remote areas.”

“Adequate investment into rural and remote health care systems is needed to ensure people living in these areas receive health care that meets the higher rates of illness cost of care,” said Massis.

About the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA)

The APA is the peak body representing the interests of Australian physiotherapists and their patients. It is a national organisation with state and territory branches and specialty subgroups. The APA represents more than 17,000 members who conduct more than 21 million consultations each year. To find a physiotherapist in your area, visit www.physiotherapy.asn.au/

For further information, or to speak with an expert physiotherapist, please contact

Ruth Heenan, Australian Physiotherapy Association
T 03 9092 0813, 0416 565 332 E Ruth.Heenan@physiotherapy.asn.au
Pammy Kokoras, Undertow Media
T 03 9421 1317 or 0421 105 710 E Pammy@undertowmedia.com
Rachael Horan, Undertow Media
T 03 9421 1318 or 0426 631 316 E rachael@undertowmedia.com