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Diversity and collaboration is the key to finding innovative solutions for rural and remote health

Rural and Remote Medical Services Ltd (RARMS) CEO Mark Burdack welcomed the latest addition to the RARMS Board - Michele Smith.

”Michele is the Chair of the Eyre and Far North Local Health Network for South Australia Health, CEO of the North Eastern Community Hospital and a Member of the South Australian Statewide Clinical Support Services Committee“ said Mr Burdack.

“She is a Fellow of the Australian College of Health Service Management and a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

”Michele brings to the board extensive experience as a Registered Nurse who has worked in various leadership roles across the health and hospital system including with the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) peoples in the north western desert of South Australia.

”The RARMS model of care incorporates nurses, practice staff and allied health as core components of a health care team to deliver sustainable health and medical services in rural and remote communities.

“Michele’s expertise as a Nurse and senior health and hospital leader in developing innovative models of care in South Australia will strengthen our approach to team based care and Telehealth that RARMS has been delivering successfully for many years.

“We are also keen to tap into Michele’s knowledge of the South Australian health system which will complement the skills and experience of other directors from Victoria, Queensland, the Northern Territory, ACT and Western Australia.

“There is growing interest in the success of the Rural and Remote Medical Services model around Australia, and we are very keen to have someone of Michele’s reputation and expertise on the Board to assist in guiding our future expansion.

”The appointment of Michele Smith, and other recent appointments, makes RARMS one of the most experienced and diverse boards of any rural and remote health organisation in Australia.

“The directors of RARMS recognised long ago that the solution to the challenges of rural health relies on having all the different interests and views working together.

“RARMS was formed 20 years ago by bringing the experience and expertise of all the stakeholders together and focussing on what works in rural health.

“History has shown us that we cannot go off on our own as doctors, nurses, allied health, Aboriginal health, practice staff, universities and health policy makers and solve rural health.

”The solution to the chronic problems of rural and remote health in Australia is getting the creativity and common sense of all stakeholders around a table.

“The new Board continues a tradition which has underpinned RARMS success over two decades in getting health services into rural and remote communities” said Mr Burdack.


CHAIR: Mr Richard Anicich AM, Chair of the Committee for the Hunter and Hunter Primary Care

Richard is the Chair of Hunter Primary Care and the Committee for the Hunter. Richard was recognised as a leading restructuring and insolvency lawyer in the 2017 Legal 500 Asia Pacific directory and recognised in AsiaLaw's 2015 guide. Australasian Lawyer also nominated Richard as a leading lawyer in 2014. On 26 January 2018, Richard was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for "significant services to the community of the Hunter, to business development and medical research, and to the law". Richard is passionate about rural health and corporate governance and the critical role of independent general practice and primary care in reducing ill-health in rural, remote and Indigenous communities. Richard lives in the Hunter region.

DEPUTY CHAIR: Dr Kim Webber, Lead, Cohealth Victoria

Dr Kim Webber has worked on rural health research, policy and advocacy for the past 15 years including roles as Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Health Alliance and of Rural Health Workforce Australia. Kim has also been a technical advisor to the World Health Organization on rural health workforce and a General Manager at the Australian Digital Health Agency. Previously Kim has worked for the Office of Rural Health in the Department of Health, established a University Department of Rural Health for the University of Sydney and managed rural programs for beyondblue: the national depression initiative. Kim is passionate about the design and development of sustainable models of rural and remote medical practices to ensure rural, remote and Indigenous Australians have the same access to on-site care as all other Australians. Kim holds a PhD from Melbourne University and lives in Victoria.

Professor Amanda Barnard, Professor of Rural and Indigenous Health, Australian National University

Professor Amanda Barnard is Interim Associate Dean, Rural Clinical School and Indigenous Health at the ANU. She has a long-term interest in asthma and respiratory disease in primary care, being a foundation member of the General Practitioners in Asthma Group of the National Asthma Council Australia. She has written and researched in the area and is currently a member of the National Monitoring of Asthma and Other Chronic Respiratory Conditions Advisory Group and the General Practice Advisory Group of the Lung Foundation Australia. An awarded teacher and educator, Amanda currently serves on a number of state and national bodies with education, training, rural workforce and health system briefs, and tries to bring a rigorous primary care perspective to her work on them. Amanda practices as a General Practitioner in Braidwood in rural NSW and lives in the Australian Capital Territory.

Dr Ken Mackey AM, retired rural GP and former President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia

Dr Ken Mackey AM spent 26 years as a GP at Lockhart Medical Practice and was a director of Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network. He took on multiple leaderships roles in rural health including council member of NSW Health and a member of the GP sub-committee. He was chair of Networking Health NSW (formerly General Practice NSW), and president of Rural Doctors' Association of Australia and president of the NSW branch. On 26 January 2016 Ken was recognised with an Order of Australia for: “significant service to general practice and to rural and remote medicine through leadership roles of professional medical organisations“. Dr Mackey continues to work as an examiner for the Royal College of General Practice and is passionate about improving healthcare for rural and regional patients. Ken lives in rural Victoria.

Dr Ian Opperman, Chief Data Scientist of NSW

Dr. Ian Oppermann is the NSW Government’s Chief Data Scientist. Ian has 25 years’ experience in the ICT sector and has held senior management roles in Europe and Australia as Director for Radio Access Performance at Nokia, Global Head of Sales Partnering (network software) at Nokia Siemens Networks, and then Divisional Chief and Flagship Director at CSIRO. Ian is considered a thought leader in the area of the Digital Economy and is a regular speaker on “Big Data”, broadband enabled services and the impact of technology on society. He has contributed to 6 books and co-authored more than 120 papers which have been cited more than 3500 times. Ian has an MBA from the University of London and a Doctor of Philosophy in Mobile Telecommunications from Sydney University. Ian is a Fellow of the Institute of Engineers Australia, a Fellow of the IEEE, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, is a Fellow and Vice President of the Australian Computer Society, and a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Ian is also president of the Australia National Committee of the IEC and president of the JTC1 strategic advisory committee in Australia. He has a particular expertise in using data to improve decision making and investment. Ian lives in Sydney.

Ms Jane Gray, former Executive Director Partnerships, Innovation and Research at the Hunter New England Local Health District

Jane has decades of experience as a senior health leader in NSW exploring innovative ways to address the health services needs of rural, remote and Indigenous people. Jane has held a number of senior roles with NSW Health including Director of Innovation Support Patient and Carer Experience Program and Director of Communication. Jane holds a Master in Business Administration (University of Newcastle) and Bachelor of Communication (Charles Sturt University). She is passionate about community-led health planning and supporting local innovation to ensure the long-term sustainability of rural and remote health care. Jane lives in rural NSW.

Dr Sarah McEwan, Medical Advisor, NIB Health

Dr Sarah McEwan is a Wiradjuri woman from Mudgee in NSW. Sarah graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine in 2004 from the University of Newcastle and is a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and a Fellow of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine. In 2010 Sarah was honoured as Rural Registrar of the Year. Sarah’s area of medical expertise is in obstetrics and gynaecology. She is passionate about health leadership, strategy, governance and advocacy and for health equity for all Australians no matter where they reside. Sarah lives in Queensland.

Rural and Remote Medical Services (RARMS) is a charity established in 2001 to deliver on-site medical services using resident GPs in small rural and remote towns that have historically struggled to attract GPs. For the last 20 years, RARMS has ensured ongoing, reliable and sustainable medical services 24/7 in Bourke, Brewarrina, Lightning Ridge, Collarenebri, Walgett and other rural and remote communities. RARMS is also the largest provider of dedicated rural and remote Telehealth services designed by rural GPs and local communities.



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