CARPA AGM October 2023: Chair report 

In 1984 a group of rural and remote health professionals came together to form CARPA, a platform for multidisciplinary activity to support primary health care in remote and First Nations communities. As a small but respected grassroots organisation, we provide an avenue for rural and remote health professionals to make their voices heard. Today, our vision is still to be a driving force for improvements in primary health care in remote Australia. 

For their work towards this goal, I’d like to thank our management committee members: Katie Michell (Treasurer), Lyn Byers (Secretary), John Wright (Vice Chair), Chris Perry, and Tony Lane.

This year, our key efforts have been the joint governance of the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM), remote health advocacy, exploring ways to improve preparation and support for managers in remote health, and partnering with the Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC) for the development of an RPHCM orientation module.

RPHCM governance:

The CARPA Standard Treatment Manual was first developed in Central Australia in the 1990s. Given the broad range of knowledge required to provide good quality healthcare in isolated settings, remote health professionals came together to develop a book of treatment protocols to improve the standard of healthcare in remote Aboriginal communities.

Since then, CARPA has partnered with Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (the Women’s Business Manual), CRANAplus (the Clinical Procedures Manual), and Flinders University (the Medicines Book) to form the jointly governed Remote Primary Health Care Manuals suite.

This year has seen the release of the new editions of the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals, including the 8 th edition of the CARPA manual. Eligible health services have received sufficient complimentary copies of the manuals to meet their operational requirements, and we are now working on opening up distribution to individuals. Other activities include commissioning a formal review of the manuals and updating the clinical governance, editing, and indexing processes in preparation for the next edition.

Advocacy:

Our advocacy efforts this year include participation in the Climate and Health Alliance, and consultation input for the NACCHO-RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Care Guidelines Project, and the National Heart Foundation ACS guidelines review.

Remote health managers project:

Poor management has a significant impact on staff wellbeing and retention. I’d be surprised if you could find an industry where this doesn’t hold true, and remote health is no exception. Managers in remote health are often dropped into the role without training or support as the ‘last one standing’. Previous remote-specific management training courses were either cancelled or put on hold due to low uptake and a lack of support from health services.

Following our initial collaboration with CRANAplus, Flinders University, and James Cook University, CRANAplus has established a Remote Managers Network (see https://crana.org.au/professional-support/clinician-roundtables if you’d like to join), and CARPA’s Vice Chair John Wright has successfully advocated for and implemented monthly management education workshops and a leadership support and development forum in his workplace (Tennant Creek Hospital).

There is still much work to be done in this space, and CARPA will continue to advocate for improved preparation and support for remote health managers in the coming year.

Manuals orientation RAHC module:

Following the release of the RPHCM new editions, we’ve partnered with RAHC in the development of a free online orientation module for the manuals. Development of the module is in its final stages, so stay tuned for its release!

Many thanks for your continued support over the last year.
Warm regards,
Laura Wright
CARPA Chair