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South Australia rural and remote health services

From the Great Australian Bight to the Nullarbor Plain, living and travelling in rural and remote South Australia (SA) offers unique experiences. To maintain good health, and to ensure you'll have access to health services when needed, it's important to plan ahead and know what is available.

A snapshot of South Australia

SA borders every state of mainland Australia and large areas are rural and remote. However, only about 20 per cent of residents live outside the greater Adelaide metropolitan area.

The state's economy is dominated by the agricultural, manufacturing and mining industries.

What types of health services are available?

Hospitals and health services in country SA offer a range of services. The Country Referral Unit can help you find services – call 1800 003 307.

GP Plus Health Care Centres in Ceduna and Port Pirie provide integrated health services, including doctor, allied health, dental health, mental health, home and community care, midwifery and community health services. Multi-purpose services provide integrated health and aged care services in some communities.

Some agencies provide outreach specialist services, and the Royal Flying Doctor Service operates doctor and nurse clinics.

For out-of-hospital emergencies, the Rural Emergency Responders Network has a network of specially trained rural doctors.

Telehealth and eHealth

The SA Digital Telehealth Network uses video and audio technology to connect with specialists and major hospitals and can therefore reduce the need for travel.

eHealth uses technology to keep a secure online record of health information, which can benefit people living in rural and remote areas. My Health Record helps improve communication with and between your doctor, health services, specialists and hospitals.

Health advice online and over the phone

Online health information can be really helpful, but it's important to use reputable sources. Look for a site with HON (Health On the Net) certification.

You can also speak to a registered nurse over the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling Healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

Mental health and wellbeing

If you live in a rural or remote area, it's important to be aware of the signs of loneliness and isolation.

If you need support, country mental health services are available in some areas. They also operate a 24-hour consultation and emergency triage service (13 14 65).

Young people living in country SA can access youth mental health services in many locations.  

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

Aboriginal health workers are based in many regional health services and hospitals, and there are also Aboriginal community-controlled health services.

Royal Adelaide Hospital and Flinders Hospital have Aboriginal health units that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, their escorts and families.

Kanggawodli provides primary health care and accommodation for rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are in Adelaide for specialist care.

Travelling to medical and health services

If you need to travel long distances to receive medical and health services, you might be eligible for support through the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme.

You can also ask your referring health service, or the hospital’s pre-admission team, about what support might be available. Royal Adelaide Hospital has online information and a rural liaison nurse. Flinders Hospital also has online information for country patients. 

Fee-for-service emergency medical and non-urgent patient transport is available through the SA Ambulance Service. SA Ambulance also operates the MedSTAR emergency medical retrieval service, and the Royal Flying Doctor Service provides emergency flights in some parts of remote and rural SA.

If you are travelling with a seriously ill child, organisations such as Ronald McDonald House can help with accommodation.

After hours and emergency medical assistance

  • In a medical emergency, immediately dial triple zero (000).
  • For non-emergency health advice and information, you can call Healthdirect to speak to a registered nurse 24 hours a day on 1800 022 222.

Further information

Last reviewed: April 2017

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