Enhancing Country Health Outcomes

Media releases: 22 May 2018

New program offers grants up to $150,000 in rural NSW and VIC to improve health services

Bendigo, 31 May 2018: It’s no secret that distance and isolation place rural and regional communities at greater risk of poorer health outcomes and management. To provide much-needed support, the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) has launched a new funding program that will help to improve health outcomes for people living in rural, regional and remote New South Wales and Victoria.

The Enhancing Country Health Outcomes (ECHO) program will provide grants for charitable initiatives that strengthen, improve accessibility and retain quality primary health care services in local communities.

The funding for this program comes via Beyond Medical Education, which closed down due to changes in government policy and transferred their funds to FRRR. Thanks to this generous donation, grants of up to $150,000 are available for projects to be delivered over two-years from October 2018. Approximately $ 825,000 is available over two rounds.

FRRR CEO, Natalie Egleton says that priority will be given to locally driven initiatives that support primary health care.

“Basic health services, programs and equipment are vital to the sustainability of small communities. Through ECHO, we can support local communities to attract resources and implement best practice sustainable models to help local residents to live and thrive in their communities.

“FRRR has previously supported a number of projects that achieved better health outcomes for community members. For example, we funded the Australian College of Optometry to purchase a slit lamp to enhance the level of eye care in Ouyen, Victoria. Patients can now receive early intervention and be treated locally rather than travelling 100 km for specialist appointments. This program will mean that there can be more of these kinds of local initiatives,” said Ms Egleton.

Other projects that could be eligible include primary health care training and leading-edge professional development in a rural and remote context; measures to enhance the retention of primary healthcare services in rural and remote locations; or fostering local partnerships to develop better primary health care models in their community. Full details and other examples are available in the program guidelines.

Lynda Vamvoukis, a former  CEO of Beyond Medical Education, said that in gifting the remaining funds to FRRR, the  Board wanted to ensure funds were available to community groups that are focused on addressing local primary health care needs.

“Quality primary health services and building long term, sustainable relationships are critical, especially in rural and regional areas. This program provides support on the ground for collaborative, multidisciplinary and integrated projects that respond to specific primary health care issues within a local community,” said Ms Vamvoukis.

Applications for the ECHO program close on 9 July 2018.