As political commentators and parties reflect on the outcomes of Saturday's election and the message that the Australians were communicating in the choices they made, I am emboldened by the recognition that issues focused on the safety, equity and respect of women and the need to do better are highlighted but dismayed that health care, an issue that was low down on the talking points throughout the campaign, is again absent from discussion.
As newly elected president of the CWA of NSW both issues are central to an association that has been advocating for women children, families, and health care for a century. Spurred into action by a crisis in health outcomes for women in the bush the CWA was formed in 1922 when country women were fighting isolation and a lack of health facilities.
It is clear from the findings and the 44 recommendations made by the NSW Legislative Inquiry into the health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional, and remote NSW, that our lobbying has largely fallen on 'deaf ears'.
Ongoing neglect has resulted in a decline of health services and outcomes for people living outside of major metropolitan centres in NSW.
Reading the many personal and professional stories and responses included in submissions to the Inquiry, highlighting a system fraying at the edges, are emotionally challenging and difficult to comprehend how we have reached this point.
It is also difficult to understand how these stories and the common threads they share could not impact decision makers and provoke them to take action to turn the tide.
Hopefully the NSW Government will be spurred into action and respond to all the recommendations arising from the Inquiry and seize the opportunity to work collaboratively with the incoming federal government and encourage them to support a coalition policy to recruit, train and retain the health professionals needed in regional rural and remote communities across NSW to address the unequal health outcomes based on where you live.
In his victory speech the Prime Minister elect, Anthony Albanese, set the tone for his incoming government.
"No one left behind because we should always look after the disadvantaged and the vulnerable," he said.
"But also no one held back, because we should always support aspiration and opportunity. That is what my government will do."
It is clear that regional, rural, remote citizens of NSW and more broadly throughout Australia are being left behind when it comes to health outcomes and this needs to change.
If as commentators say Australia has voted for "change", then that change is in the quality of the health care we receive and the outcomes that result.
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