With its vast rural and remote regions, living, working and travelling in Western Australia (WA) can be exciting. But when you need health services, you need to know how to access them, no matter where you are. Planning ahead will let you be prepared for when you need help.
A snapshot of Western Australia
WA covers about a third of Australia. Most people live in and around Perth and Fremantle, but with the state's emphasis on natural resources and farming, many others live in areas that are much more isolated.
What types of health services are available?
There are 9 large regional hospitals in WA and numerous country hospitals that offer a broad range of health services.
WA Country Health Service provides a range of services for people living in rural and remote areas. Some of these are delivered by multi-purpose services (combining hospitals and nursing posts) to meet local needs.
A nursing post (sometimes known as a 'health centre' or 'health service') is staffed by highly skilled nurses, who provide medical services and emergency care in remote areas.
Rural Health West provides a wide range of outreach health services throughout WA, including ear health and chronic disease services, as well as visiting optometrists.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service in WA also provides outreach services. As well as emergency medical flights, it provides telehealth, medical chests, flight nursing, dental services and rural and remote general practice clinics.
Anyone's health needs can change over time so services are available for all ages and needs, including:
- integrated health and aged care services
- help for carers
- disability services
- maternal, child and youth health
Country hospitals are important but sometimes lack specialist health practitioners, so telehealth helps connect people to clinical outpatient services. Emergency telehealth links small hospitals with specialists in Perth via emergency videoconference calls.
Technology is also used 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.
Finding services and online support
Increasingly, people are using online sites when searching on the internet for health services. It is important to use reputable sources, such as healthdirect's service finder.
healthdirect also provides a free 24-hour health advice service: call 1800 022 222 to speak with a registered nurse.
Mental health and wellbeing
The WA Government provides a range of mental health services and support. And there are helplines and online resources and tools available for when you feel isolated or need help with an existing mental health condition.
Farming and mining communities
Mining — of whatever type — can be dangerous work. Both workers and community need to look after their safety around mining sites, and while fossicking and prospecting.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
Travelling to medical and health services
Emergency medical flights are available if someone is seriously ill or injured, and needs to be treated at a large hospital.
If you need to travel to a larger regional or city hospital for specialist care, you might be eligible for travel and accommodation support through the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme.
Social workers in hospitals can support you while in hospital, or provide referral to services after discharge.
If you are travelling with a child who requires medical services, organisations such as Ronald McDonald House can help.
- In a medical emergency, dial triple zero (000) immediately.
- There is a range of 24/7 emergency contacts you can phone.
- Contact the Royal Flying Doctor Service 24-hour medical and emergency help: 1800 625 800 (free call) or 08 9417 6389 (by satellite phone).
- The Royal Flying Doctor Service also provides 24-hour emergency medical flights in many regions.
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Last reviewed: March 2021