The Healthy Communities Foundation Australia Ltd was founded as a charity under the name of Rural and Remote Medical Services Ltd (RARMS) in 2001 by a group of concerned rural GPs and communities in north-western NSW that were experiencing challenges maintaining local health and hospital services.
We are the only major rural and remote health organisation in Australia headquartered in a rural town (Galariinbaraay/Collarenebri), bringing jobs and economic activity back to rural and remote communities, and ensuring our programs and strategies are informed by the unique knowledge and experiences of rural, remote and Aboriginal people.
Since 2001, the Foundation has supported more than 73 communities with a catchment of more than 500,000 people to sustain and grow local community health care, and to attract and retain medical workforce.
Established to support rural and remote communities to operate local community health services and recruit qualified health and medical staff, in 2019 the Foundation undertook a major strategic review to think about how we can best support rural, remote and Aboriginal communities into the future.
In thinking about what to do next, the Foundation asked for advice from Australia’s leading experts in rural, remote and Aboriginal health - rural, remote and Aboriginal people. They told us that governments do not always ask rural, remote and Aboriginal people their views before they make decisions about rural health care services.
Our experts advised us that there is a need for an organisation that is headquartered in a rural or remote town that listens to the voices of local communities around the design and development of health care services, and who can help rural, remote and Aboriginal people to advocate for local solutions to local challenges.
They told us that Australia will never address the challenges in rural, remote and Aboriginal health until there is a genuine acknowledgment that poor health is caused in large part by poorly designed policies and programs that ignore the wisdom and experience of rural and Aboriginal people. They wanted a stronger focus on addressing the social determinants of health such as social housing, school resourcing, educational attainment, local training, employment and health literacy.
For more than 20 years, the Foundation has shown that when rural, remote and Aboriginal people are given a voice in decision making they can design and implement service reforms that ensure sustainable access to high quality health care in their communities. Our experts wanted us to apply the same approach we pioneered all those year ago - listening to people with lived experience of rural health - to address the challenges that confront our communities today.
RICHARD ANICICH AM
DR KIM WEBBER
MICHELE SMITH OAM
Chair, Clinical Governance
DR IAN OPPERMAN
Chair, Audit & Risk
Our Values & Commitments
Saving the Planet for Human Health
Local Purchasing and Employment
People Centred Integrated Care
Ethical Use of Technology
Ethical Use of Artificial Intelligence