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The Challenge

The health system in remote Australia are broken. Long-term and persistent workforce shortages, non-viable services, and fragmentation of care have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote health services’ struggles to keep clinics open are evident, with many clinics forced to close or offer reduced services. Nowhere and at no time is the need for access to an effective comprehensive Primary Health Care (PHC) system more urgent than in remote Australia right now. Residents of remote areas of Australia, characterised by the poorest health status and greatest health needs, many with multiple complex chronic diseases, are bearing the brunt of the current primary health care system crisis and marked decline in access to primary health care. Health care providers and authorities are struggling with excessive levels of staff burnout and turnover, inequitable funding and escalating service costs, and structural barriers resulting from a fragmented health care system.

The new CRE for Strengthening Health Systems in Remote Australia (CRESTRA), led by Menzies School of Health Research, seeks to address the current crisis through leveraging strong partnerships built over many years with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, NT Health, Health Communities Foundation Australia and NT Primary Health Network/NT Rural Workforce Agency.

Theory of Change

Anticipated Outcomes

Short-Intermediate Term

  1. Improve workforce retention through multiple evidence-based strategies,

  2. address the current inequitable funding of remote health services,

  3. improve service integration and co-ordination to provide an efficient, seamless pathway to care for remote residents, and

  4. build remote area research capacity.

Long Term Outcomes

More sustainable health care services in remote communities in Australia.



Retention of workforce in remote communities


Number of remote primary health care organisations offering services in Australia


Number of integrated services and pathways

15 April 2024

NOTE: Funding for the Clinic was announced in January 2024 and services will commence in the middle of the year.

Social Impact



Strengthening Health Systems in Remote Australia

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