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Rural and remote health

6-minute read

Key facts

  • Living in rural and remote areas means access to health services can be more challenging.
  • It is important to be familiar with health services in your area, to know where to get help when you need it.
  • Telehealth allows remote consultations with your doctors and allied health services.
  • You may be eligible for travel and accommodation support to attend some appointments.
  • Check your local state-based websites to find services near you.

Planning ahead

Living in rural and remote Australia can sometimes mean that health services may be harder to access than in the city. Knowing what health services are in your area, and the online supports available to you will help you prepare for when you need them.

Living in a regional or remote area means you need to plan for your future health needs, even if you are in good health now. Check your health insurance and ambulance cover, so that you can be confident they meet your current and future health needs.

Health clinics and doctors

It is important to know where your closest doctor and health services are, especially if you are new to the area. Try and find a good family doctor, and build a relationship, so you can turn to them with any health problems.

In some remote regions, fly-in/fly-out health clinics are available. This includes the Royal Flying Doctor Service, doctors, nurses and other health professionals.

It can help to make a contact list of emergency and health services and keep it handy for when you need it.

Finding services and online support

Sometimes, support over the phone and internet can be helpful. When searching on the internet for health services, it is important to use reputable sources such as healthdirect's service finder.

Healthdirect Australia also provides free 24-hour health advice for non-urgent help. Call 1800 022 222 to speak with a registered nurse (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria).

eHealth and telehealth services also make it easier for people in rural and remote areas to contact health professionals:

  • eHealth uses technology to keep a secure online record of your health information. My Health Record helps you communicate better with your doctors, health services, specialists, and hospitals.
  • Telehealth involves remote consultations with health practitioners, often using video conferencing. Doctors and nurses can also use satellite, mobile phones, email and fax. You can get Medicare rebates for telehealth, including mental health consultations.

Using hospital and health services in the city

Sometimes people in rural and remote locations need to travel to attend hospitals or clinics, or to see specialist doctors. This can be stressful, but support is available.

Good planning can help you to reduce some of your travel concerns, when travelling to your healthcare appointment. Try reaching out to one or more of these services:

Mental health and wellbeing

There are often fewer 'in-person' mental health services in rural and remote areas. Help is available, including through:

Online therapy (eTherapy) offers psychological support, information, counselling and other help online, and use a computer or mobile device. eTherapy can be useful for some people, but may not suit everyone.

Farmer health

There are risks to working in rural areas, especially on farms. On the National Centre for Farmer Health website, you can learn about safety information for farmers and assess your health and wellbeing. You can also read more on children living on rural properties on the Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website.

Health and support services

There are many reputable and reliable information services available online. These include specific areas of health and wellbeing, such as:

Other healthdirect webpages have information on:

Familiarise yourself with available health services and online support. This way you can prepare yourself for your future health needs, while enjoying the benefits of rural and remote living.

Resources and support

For services in your state, visit one of the following:

Emergency help

  • In a medical emergency, immediately dial triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.
  • The Royal Flying Doctor Service provides 24-hour emergency medical flights in many regions.
  • In some parts of rural and remote Australia, you might be close to a nursing post.
  • Other contacts for emergency help and non-urgent help, can be found on the need help now page.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2023

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Rural and remote support | Health and wellbeing | Queensland Government

Mental health help and support sources for people living in rural and remote areas of Queensland.

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Learn about health services for remote and rural Indigenous communities in Queensland.

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Details of services provided by the Flying Doctor Australia wide. Including life-saving emergency evacuations and comprehensive primary healthcare

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In NSW, there are 15 local health districts responsible for providing health services in a wide range of settings, from primary care posts in the remote outback to metropolitan tertiary health centres. Seven of these LHDs comprise rural areas.

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RFDS aeromedical crews evacuate injured people from emergency situations in the Australian Outback.

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The Royal Flying Doctor Service provides Mental Health programs and services to those living in rural and remote Australia.

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The reported prevalence of mental illness in rural and remote Australia appears similar to that of major cities.

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The opthalmology outreach team can visit your community to check the health of your eyes.

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Flying Doctor clinics | Royal Flying Doctor Service

The Royal Flying Doctor Service provides GP & Nurse clinics across rural and remote Australia to make primary health services available to the Outback

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