Members and instructors of the Heartmoves group

Lismore City Council has won a national award for best practice in creating healthier communities. Presented at the 2014 Heart Foundation Local Government Awards in Coffs Harbour on 20 October, the award for Lismore’s Move2Change was in the category of ‘Councils with populations greater than 15,000’.

The winning program delivers low-cost exercise programs through the Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre and in Lismore’s villages.

Frank Boyle



Robin Osborne visits an iconic Nimbin valley farm to see how agricultural innovation delivers commercial success and helps local people stay healthy.

On land where generations of his forebears raised dairy cows, beef cattle and pigs, Frank Boyle grows pecan nuts and rice, not only farming these crops but value-adding to them by doing the processing, packaging and even the retailing.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner chose Lismore as the site for the 7 November 2014 launch of the NSW Rural Health Plan – Towards 2021, perhaps to honour the contribution of well-known local surgeon, Assoc Prof Austin Curtin, who co-chairs the 22-member Ministerial Advisory Committee for Rural Health (which also includes Lismore Base Hospital’s manager of medical imaging, Denys Wynn).

The report identifies three key “Directions” – Healthy rural communities, Access to high quality care of rural populations, and Integrated rural heath services, and describes three “Strategies” for achieving them: Enhance the rural health workforce, Strengthen rural health infrastructure, research and innovation, and Improve rural eHealth.

“We want to make sure people in rural areas can access the right care, in the right place, at the right time,” the Minister said.

Adelaide born Gillian Hicks survived the 2005 London Underground suicide bombings but lost both her lower legs in the attack. Since then she has devoted much of her time to building better relations between the various ethnic groups in England. As part of this work she counsels young radicalised Muslim men on the impacts of their actions on the community.

She relates the story of one young man, with whom she had been working for some months, who announced that he had finally given up the idea of becoming a martyr to his cause. In a difficult area, where feedback is rare, Hicks was desperate to know why.

"Was it something I said?", she asked. "No." he replied, "I just really love playing soccer."

Dr Arn Sprogis

Arn Sprogis* agrees that general practice is the key to improved quality of care, but ponders what mix of public and private structures will best support it.

Ineffective policy making by successive federal governments has pushed the Australian health system into the first stages of a disruption that could be even greater than the impact of Medibank over 30 years ago.

This disruption is being driven by the need to resolve the three major health care and health financing challenges:

  • how to best manage chronic and complex care, and by whom?

  • how to best manage avoidable hospital admissions/care, and by whom?

  • how to finally get equity in access to care, particularly for rural and regional populations?

The many keen observers of our health system see clear signs of major change. We have an absent commonwealth government , private health insurers (PHIs) moving into general practice, corporate GP practice rapidly increasing, and an impending flood of new medical graduates.

Add to this mix another restructure of the primary care system, with Medicare Locals (MLs) soon to become Primary Health Networks (PHNs).