A networked approach to addressing COVID-19 in rural and remote Australia

Part of Special Series: WONCA World Rural Health Conference Abstracts 2022go to url


name here
Shannon Nott
1 Rural Health Director of Medical Services for the Western NSW Local Health District, Medical Advisor for NSW Rural Doctors Network *

name here
Maryanne Hawthorn
2 Director Health Intelligence, Planning and Service Development


*Dr Shannon Nott


1, 2 Western NSW Local Health District, Dubbo, NSW, Australia


10 January 2023 Volume 23 Issue 1


RECEIVED: 20 September 2022

ACCEPTED: 20 September 2022


Nott S, Hawthorn M.  A networked approach to addressing COVID-19 in rural and remote Australia. Rural and Remote Health 2023; 23: 8132. https://doi.org/10.22605/RRH8132


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence

go to urlCited by

no pdf available, use your browser's print function to create one


Introduction: The COVID-19 global pandemic has been a significant challenge worldwide. This has been particularly so in rural and remote communities where largely metropolitan-based policies do not translate into the rural context. Western NSW Local Health District (Australia), a region spanning almost 250,000 km2 (slightly larger than the UK), has implemented a networked approach that spanned public health measures, acute care services and psycho-social supports for rural communities.

Method: A synthesis of field observations and experiences in planning and implementing a networked rural approach to COVID-19.

Results: This presentation reports on the key enablers, challenges and observations in operationalising a networked, rural-specific, 'whole-of-health' approach to COVID-19. As of 22 December 2021, the region (total population 278,000) had confirmed over 112,000 cases of COVID-19 across some of the state’s most disadvantage rural communities. This presentation will provide an overview of the framework used to address COVID-19, including descriptions of the public health response, specific care needs of those with COVID-19, cultural and social support for vulnerable peoples and an approach to keeping the community well.

Discussion: Responses to COVID-19 need to be 'rural proofed' to ensure that the need of rural communities can be met. Acute health services must leverage a networked approach that supports existing clinical workforce through effective communication and developing rural-specific processes to ensure best practice care can be delivered. This includes utilising advances in telehealth to ensure people can access clinical support when diagnosed with COVID-19. Managing the COVID-19 pandemic across rural communities requires 'whole-of-system' thinking and strengthening partnerships to manage both public health measures as well as an acute care response.

This PDF has been produced for your convenience. Always refer to the live site https://www.rrh.org.au/journal/article/8132 for the Version of Record.