Crossroads to better rural health care

The University of Melbourne will lead a landmark $1 million National Health and Medical Research Council partnership project to improve rural health care in northeastern Victoria.


The groundbreaking study will be led by Professor David Simmons, Professor Lisa Bourke and Dr Kristen Glenister from the University’s Department of Rural Health.

The Crossroads project is a collaboration of nine partners: hospitals in Shepparton, Cobram, Benalla and Seymour, Moira Shire, Goulburn Valley Primary Care Partnership, Shepparton Access, Primary Care Connect and Alfred Health.

Professor Bourke said the project is one of the most detailed health studies undertaken in rural Australia.

“We will repeat the 2001/2002 study we undertook in four towns (Cobram, Benalla, Seymour and Shepparton/Mooroopna) and compare results to see if rural health care outcomes have improved since then,” Professor Bourke said.

The research team will collect health information from 1800 randomly selected households and invite 900 people to attend a clinic where they will be tested for various conditions.

“We will then provide vital health data to local health services and local communities to help them tailor their health services to meet the needs of their local communities.”

Data collection for the Crossroads study will start in July 2016 and take 18 months to complete.

“Quality data like this also enables community organisations to attract funding to address local needs and we are grateful for the support of all our partners in this important research,” Professor Bourke said.

“While there is health data for Victoria and Australia, finding data on rural communities is less common.’’

Department of Rural Health researcher Dr Kristen Glenister said the partnership has invested in one project to secure quality data for the towns of Cobram, Benalla, Seymour and Shepparton and Mooroopna.