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Rural and remote medical services (RARMS) program

Cause of Death by Remoteness (AIHW, 2020)

Australian is one of the richest countries on Earth based on GDP per person.  Much of that wealth comes from Australia's ability to trade essential commodities, including food and minerals, around the world.  These commodities come from rural and remote Australia.


Yet around a quarter of Australians who live in rural and remote communities cannot access the health and medical care they need, when and where they need it​

This also affects people who are poor, live in social housing, or are members of a vulnerable groups such as older, LGBTQI+, homeless and people with disabilities.

Under International treaties Australian governments have committed to ensuring that all people have access to the health care they need within reasonable reach.  This is reflected in the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has committed to ensuring all Australians have access to healthcare they need, "regardless of where the live".  

Leading causes of death by Remoteness Australia
General Practitioners per 100,000 population by Remoteness (RACGP, 2018)
Quick facts

The Rural and Remote Medical Services (RARMS) program was the first major initiative of the Foundation in 2001.  For more than 20 years the Foundation has been successful in helping rural and remote communities to establish, run and sustain primary health care and hospital services, and attract permanent GPs and nurses, in small rural and remote locations.  


The Rural and Remote Medical Services (RARMS) model has been recognised as one of the most sustainable typologies of health care service delivery for rural and remote communities in Australia.

The starting point for the RARMS model is community.  The Foundation works with local communities to understand the factors that are influencing access to health care, and then works with the community to design solutions using local knowledge, expertise and skills.


When we commit to helping a community, we employ staff in that community to ensure that as needs change we can change what we do, and how we do it, in concert.

It has been recognised since the introduction of Australia's Medicare universal health program in 1984 that an activity-based health funding model is poorly equipped to address the diseconomies of scale of small towns.  Sustainable health and hospital service delivery in rural and remote towns has always relied upon the cooperation of all tiers of government - local, State/Territory and Federal - to pool resources and enable small towns to attract the workforce needed to sustain services at a high level of quality.

The RARMS Model has been strongly supported over the last two decades across government, enabling rural and remote towns to access high quality local primary health care and 24/7 hospital and emergency services supporting the commitment of Australia's government to universal health care access, "regardless of where you live in the country".

To view the many communities that are benefiting from the RARMS program please click here.

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