CEO Message - July 2023

31 July 2023

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​This year marks the 25th Anniversary of Health Workforce Queensland connecting workforce to remote and rural Queensland communities. Throughout these remarkable years, Health Workforce Queensland has made significant strides in supporting healthcare professionals, fostering improved quality of care and enhancing healthcare accessibility across Queensland. This achievement would not have been possible without the unwavering commitment and invaluable contributions of our remote and rural communities, health professionals, stakeholders and our staff members.

We have worked collaboratively with a number of stakeholders to develop and implement creative and practical solutions together by contributing resources and support for key health workforce and service development projects. It is important to acknowledge the HWQ founding members CheckUP, Central Queensland Rural Division of General Practice (CQRDGP), Queensland Aboriginal Islander Health Alliance (QAIHA), Rural Doctors Association of Queensland (RDAQ) and RHealth.

We continue to work collaboratively with QAIHC and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) sector to improve the supply and support of health workforce to ACCHSs. HWQ continues to work collaboratively with CheckUP and Rural Flying Doctors Service (RFDS), and each of the rural Primary Health Care Networks (PHNs) - Western Queensland PHN (WQPHN), North Queensland PHN (NQPHN), Country2Coast and Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN (DDWMPHN), to design and deliver improved access to primary healthcare workforce and service delivery arrangements. Read more about HWQ's 25 years below.

25th Anniversary

Aside from the Agency’s anniversary, one of the biggest events on our calendar has been the annual RDAQ Conference which was held in early June. HWQ were the conference partner for the annual conference, and this year we also sponsored the Rural Workforce Forum, where Sarah Venn, Executive Manager, Workforce & Service Planning, presented on practitioner and manager perceptions of why health staff tended to leave practices. The Health Workforce Solutions and Future Workforce teams enjoyed mingling with delegates and trade and it was wonderful to be part of such a warm and passionate gathering. This year’s QRMFN Family Program at RDAQ 2023 was a success with 27 spouses and 33 children enjoying a wide range of activities and games. Read more about the conference below.

RDAQ Conference

The 2023 Health Workforce Needs Assessment (HWNA) was released just in time for RDAQ. The HWNA highlights key findings and trends from health professionals on the ground. You can access and read the full report linked below.

HWNA Report

The 2022 Minimum Data Set Summary Report (MDS) has also now been released​ and is a snapshot of the general practitioner workforce landscape in Queensland as of 30 November 2022.

MDS Report

At the HWQ board meeting in late May, former Director and past Board Chair, Dr Ross Hetherington was presented with Honorary Membership, by current Board Chair, Dr Ross Maxwell (pictured below ).

Nukal Murra and collaboration on the Western Queensland First Nations - Health Workforce Development Plan. The Nukal Murra Alliance and WQPHN MOU partner organisations, CheckUp, RFDS and HWQ, met in Brisbane on the 20 June 2023, to finalise the implementation plan of the Western Queensland First Nations Health Workforce Plan (WQ First Nations Workforce Plan). The WQ First Nations Workforce 5-year Plan will guide the implementation based on agreed priorities, investment and appetite for reform and change. Read more about this below.

Nukal Murra Alliance

Following the Federal Budget announcement, we were advised on the 11 May 2023, by the Department of Health and Aged Care, that the MDRAP (More Doctors for Rural Australia Program) would end on the 30 June 2023. Rural Workforce Agencies have spent the past two months advising the Department of the impacts of the closure of this program. The Department has decided to extend the program until 31 December 2023. A new program, Pre-Fellowship Program, is under development by the Department and we will provide further information to impacted MDRAP doctors and Practices as it is available.

As the Financial Year closed the Department of Health and Aged Care advised that the Rural Health Workforce Support Activity program and Health Workforce Scholarship Program will be extended to 30 June 2026. HWQ is currently waiting the funding agreement to be received from the Department of Health and Aged Care and therefore will not be able to accept any new HWSP applications until September 2023. Current approved HWSP applications will be managed as normal. This is excellent news for remote and rural health workforce and communities as it funds the continuation of the programs of the Rural Workforce Agencies across Australia and of course, Queensland.

Early this month was National NAIDOC Week, an important opportunity to recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This year’s theme celebrates Elders and how they have guided generations and paved the way for today’s people to draw strength from their knowledge and experience. Read more on the link below.


Lastly, the GROW Rural Central Queensland cohort have just returned from their third and final annual long weekend event, visiting the communities of Woorabinda, Moura and Theodore. The students have developed some wonderful friendships with each other and the communities. They have gained valuable insights, skills and experience in working in rural healthcare. One of the students, Johanna Joyce has already undertaken a placement in Woorabinda and kindly shared her experiences with the group over the weekend. You can read Johanna’s story in this issue and a wrap up of the event will feature in the next issue of Health Works. I’d like to thank the businesses, individuals and communities involved in GROW Rural, on collaborating to make this event possible and I express my gratitude for sharing your time and experience.

Woorabinda Placement

Chris Mitchell
CEO, Health Workforce Queensland