Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about the National Rural Health Commissioner

Page last updated: 07 July 2020

What are the responsibilities of the new Commissioner’s Office?
How long will the Commissioner be appointed for?
Who appoints the Commissioner and how?
What are the reporting requirements for the Office?
What are the Commissioner’s functions?
How will the Office improve rural and regional health?

What are the responsibilities of the new Commissioner’s Office?

The new and expanded Office will have a focus on outcomes.  It will work closely with the sector, communities and other key stakeholders to help shape the development and implementation of rural health policies, strategies and programs. The Office will play a key role ensuring that health policies with a rural focus or element are joined up and complementary.

The new Office will have the capacity to conduct evidence-based research into issues relating to rural health, providing Government insights from the sector, lived experience of communities and patients, and evidence from academic and other literature.

The Commissioner also participates in key rural health forums and committees, including the Rural Health Stakeholder Roundtable and the Distribution Advisory Group.

How long will the Commissioner be appointed for?

Appointments will be for up to two years, on a full-time or part-time basis. A Commissioner must have experience in rural health (such as medical, nursing, allied health, or Indigenous health).

Who appoints the Commissioner and how?

The appointment is made by the Minister with responsibility for rural health, and as per the appointment process set out in the Cabinet Handbook issued by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

What are the reporting requirements for the Office?

The Commissioner will be required to submit an annual report on duties undertaken, to be submitted directly to the Minister responsible for rural health. The Commissioner will be tasked from the Minister via a Statement of Expectations. The Commissioner will provide a Statement of Intent setting out their approach to fulfilling the Minister’s expectations.

What are the Commissioner’s functions?

The Commissioner will:

  • Carry out duties as directed by the responsible Minister for rural health, as well as independent duties.
  • Not delegate his or her powers or functions to anyone else.
  • Not have financial delegation powers.
  • Be assisted by Departmental officers, and will not have specific employment powers.
  • Not be able to engage consultants to assist in fulfilling his or her duties.

How will the Office improve rural and regional health?

The Office will support alignment across initiatives to improve rural health outcomes. The Office will provide a rural focus to health strategies, policies and plans to ensure the needs of rural Australian are considered.

Furthermore, the Office will provide independent and impartial advice to the Minister about innovative and integrated approaches to health service delivery to improve access and sustainability of services for communities, and strengthen the rural training pipeline and improving rural health workforce retention.

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