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Empowering rural and remote primary healthcare providers in the Whitsunday and Bowen region

Published 22 June 2023

In continuing our mission to ensure quality healthcare reaches every corner of the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) region, dedicated NQPHN staff recently embarked on a three-day road trip, visiting Proserpine, Cannonvale, Bowen, and Collinsville.


Led by NQPHN's Primary Care Engagement Manager Jennifer Burnham, along with Senior Primary Care Engagement Officer Gilyan Thorn and ITC Program Officer Melinda Green, the team provided essential support to general practices and allied health providers.

The road trip served as an opportunity to offer important updates, support, and information on various areas, including workforce development opportunities, general practice grants, the newly implemented General Practice Data Dashboards, Provider Connect Australia, and the Integrated Team Care (ITC) program.

Additionally, the in-person visits facilitated face-to-face connections with practice managers and staff, involving them in commissioning and essential programs like NQPHN's GP Focus Groups and mental health co-design workshops.

Primary Care Engagement Manager Jennifer Burnham highlighted the significance of these visits, emphasising the crucial intel collected directly from health providers.

"These road trips are invaluable, helping us identify health service gaps and provide much-needed support to providers in rural and remote communities," Jennifer expressed.

The newly released PHN Allied Health Engagement Framework acknowledges allied health as a key foundation for health reform in Australia's Primary Care 10 Year Plan 2022-2032. This positions PHNs to play a crucial role in supporting and integrating allied health providers within the healthcare system to ensure our community is living happier, healthier, longer lives.

OT4You Occupational Therapist and Service Director Kristy Williams shared the challenges faced by allied health providers in rural and remote areas.

"Our most significant challenge working in a rural community is recruiting and retaining staff. While we have made efforts to build a strong team and foster a supportive work environment, more needs to be done to incentivise graduates to stay in rural areas. It is encouraging to hear about the National PHN Allied Health in Primary Care Engagement Framework, which recognises allied health as a key foundation for reform," Kristy noted.

NQPHN is dedicated to its commitment to collaborate with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and mainstream healthcare providers to achieve better health outcomes across our footprint. The road trip served as an opportunity to promote the Integrated Team Care (ITC) program within general practices throughout the Whitsunday and Bowen region, with Collinsville Nurse Grace and Practice Manager Susan expressing delight in utilising the newly implemented INCA shared care platform.

"Using INCA has been a time-saving process for our practice, enhancing efficiency by eliminating paper usage. The INCA team provided exceptional support, promptly assisting us in setup, training, and addressing our INCA platform enquiries. We've bid farewell to the tiresome tasks of printing forms, signing, scanning, and faxing care plans, GP Management Plans, and Team Care Arrangement referrals," Grace said.

The INCA platform, which fosters integration between health services and enables multidisciplinary team care for individuals with chronic or complex conditions, is set to be offered to all general practices in the NQPHN region. This initiative aims to strengthen the collaboration and coordination of care, ultimately improving health outcomes for the local population.

As the road trip came to an end, the NQPHN Team reflected on the positive impact these connections have on supporting and empowering remote primary healthcare providers to deliver the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

If your practice would like to arrange a visit, please contact the Primary Care Engagement Team at

Last updated: 22 June 2023