Health Transport Workshop, Lismore, 26 July 2012

NCOSS, together with the Northern Rivers Social Development Council, recently hosted a health transport workshop in Lismore. Attended by representatives from both the transport and health sectors, the workshop provided an opportunity to examine transport-related barriers to accessing health services.

While participants had all witnessed a growing need for health transport services – due to both demographic changes and to the centralisation of health services – this had not been supported by any growth in funding. In the absence of a strategic approach to the delivery of health transport, the system was seen to have developed into a confusing labyrinth of services with complex and inconsistent eligibility criteria. The lack of coordination was also contributing to the inefficient use of resources.

It was felt that transport was not given due consideration either during the planning of health services and programs, or in the delivery. As a result, both clients and transport providers struggled to overcome challenges ranging from the lack of transport options through to inappropriate discharge practices and referral pathways.

For many Aboriginal people the health transport issues identified during the workshop are compounded. Not only are many Aboriginal communities isolated, with poor access to both public and private transport, but Aboriginal people also experience a greater burden of ill-health. Yet the specific needs of Aboriginal people as they relate to health transport have not been given the attention they deserve. Both the lack of consultation and the lack of culturally appropriate services – issues that go hand in hand – were identified as barriers.

While agreeing that systemic changes are needed at the State level, participants also held constructive conversations about working together to address local issues. A commitment was made to improve the systems used for notifying transport providers of client discharges, and it was agreed to further explore the experiences of Aboriginal people in relation to discharge and transport. Participants also expressed strong support for reconvening regular Health Transport Network meetings.

Using the findings from both the Lismore workshop and a similar workshop held in Sydney in May, NCOSS is now developing recommendations for a Health Transport Report due to be launched in October. If you would like to provide any input into this report, please contact Rhiannon Cook on 9211 2599, ext 128 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it