Access & Equity in Rural Health Care

Research Overview

The work of this research group focuses on partnering with consumers, practitioners and rural health services to ensure that everyone living in rural communities, no matter their culture, identity or socio-economic status, has access to quality health care. To this end, research is being conducted into four main domains:

  • the cultures of health consumers (consumer perspectives, expectations and needs);
  • the cultures of rural health services (how the service engages, welcomes and respects consumers);
  • the cultures of rural health professionals (practitioner practices, knowledges and challenges); and
  • the cultures of health care systems (how systems enable inclusive and exclusive health care).

Some projects in this stream focus on a particular domain, such a consumers who are refugees or asylum seekers or the health outcomes of Aboriginal children or the birthing experiences of mothers and fathers.  Other projects analyse what occurs when these four domains intersect—when health consumers and practitioners intersect at a service/s located within the broader health care system. This pursues the dis/connection between these domains to understand how consumers are engaged and/or marginalised and the ability of health practitioners and services to provide inclusive health care.


Professor Lisa Bourke, Director, University Department of Rural Health

Raylene Nixon, Lecturer in Aboriginal Health

Dr Lucinda Aberdeen, Senior Research Fellow, Culturally Inclusive Rural Healthcare

Dr Zubaidah Mohamed Shaburdin, Research Associate, Culture And Rural Health

Dr Tui Crumpen, Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellow

Shani Crumpen, Dungala Kaiela Research Fellow


Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant - "Increasing inclusion in rural, generalist health services: Developing a process of change"

The research acknowledges the Australian Government of Health's Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program.

Research Outcomes

Interaction matters! The experiences of diverse residents of Shepparton using health services

The Department of Rural Health, University of Melbourne are pleased to present you with their report titled: ‘Interaction matters! The experiences of diverse residents of Shepparton using health services.’ It presents the experiences of a range of people in their use of health services. It is hoped these findings can contribute to how Shepparton services can continue to be responsive, accessible and respectful to the many culturally and socially diverse members of our community.

Interaction Matters report (PDF 1.1 MB)

Research Publications


Esgin, T., Macniven, R., Crouch, A., Martiniuk, A. (2023)
At the cultural interface: A systematic review of study characteristics and cultural integrity from twenty years of randomised controlled trials with Indigenous participants. Dialogues in Health, Volume 2,100097. doi:10.1016/j.dialog.2023.100097.

Marjadi, B., Flavel, J., Baker, K., Glenister, K., Morns, M., Triantafyllou, M., . . . Gardiner, P. A. (2023). Twelve Tips for Inclusive Practice in Healthcare Settings.. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 20(5). doi:10.3390/ijerph20054657

McGrath, R. L., Shephard, S. & Chen, Y. (2023). The Need for Transformational Change in Social Justice–Informed Physiotherapy. Physiotherapy Canada, doi:10.3138/ptc-2022-0108


Aberdeen, Lucinda, Reid, Carol & Ibrahimi, Habiba (2022) Evaluation of Wise Well Women Community Health Educator Program. Culture and Rural Health, Department of Rural Health, The University of Melbourne. < link pending>

Bourke, L., Anam, M., Mohamed Shaburdin, Z., Mitchell, O., & Crouch, A. (2022). Social Interaction and Social Inclusion in International Rural Health Research. In Handbook of Social Inclusion (pp. 811-833). Springer International Publishing. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-89594-5_43

Esgin, T., Hersh, D., Rowley, K., Macniven, R., Crouch, A., Halaki, M., & Newton, R. (2022). The facilitators and barriers to exercise in the Noongar Aboriginal population in Perth, Australia. HEALTH PROMOTION INTERNATIONAL, 10 pages. doi:10.1093/heapro/daac023

Quilliam, C., Glenister, K., Ervin, K., & Weller-Newton, J. (2022). Revisiting rural healthcare access through Held's ethics of care. SOCIAL THEORY & HEALTH, 16 pages. doi:10.1057/s41285-022-00181-9

Quilliam, C., O'Shea, A., Holgate, N., & Alston, L. (2022). Starting with us: Imagining relational, co-designed policy approaches to improve healthcare access for rural people with disability. AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF RURAL HEALTH, 7 pages. doi:10.1111/ajr.12891

Reid, C., Gee, G., Bennetts, S. K., Clark, Y., Atkinson, C., Dyall, D., . . . Chamberlain, C. (2022). Using participatory action research to co-design perinatal support strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents experiencing complex trauma. WOMEN AND BIRTH, 35(5), E494-E501. doi:10.1016/j.wombi.2021.12.005


Aberdeen, L., Robinson, K. & Wickes, J. (2021) ‘Playing the Game’: A Comparative Case Study of Aboriginal Exemption in Queensland and New South Wales. In L. Aberdeen & J. Jones (Eds.), Black, White and Exempt: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lives under Exemption (pp. 62-84). Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra.

Mitchell, O., Bourke, L., & Shaburdin, Z. M. (2021). A qualitative evaluation of the implementation of a cultural competence project in rural Victoria. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 45(3): 227-234. doi:10.1111/1753-6405.13105


Crouch, A., Chew, B., & Freeman, G. (2020). Practitioner perceptions of the health of Australian First Nations' Peoples: Preliminary findings. Australian Journel of Rural Health, 28(4), 351-359. doi:10.1111/ajr.12645

Macniven, R., & Esgin, T. (2020). Exercise motivators, barriers, habits and environment at an Indigenous community facility. Managing Sport & Leisure, 12 pages. doi:10.1080/23750472.2020.1810108

Malatzky, C., Bourke, L., & Farmer, J. (2020). 'I think we're getting a bit clinical here': A qualitative study of professionals' experiences of providing mental healthcare to young people within an Australian rural service. Health & Social Care in the Community , 10 pages. doi:10.1111/hsc.13152

Malatzky, C., Shaburdin, Z. M., & Bourke, L. (2020). Exploring the role-based challenges of providing culturally inclusive health care for maternal and child health nurses: Qualitative findings. Nursing Open, 7(3), 822-831. doi:10.1002/nop2.457

Shaburdin, Z. M., Bourke, L., Mitchell, O., & Newman, T. (2020). 'It's a cultural thing': excuses used by health service providers on providing inclusive care. Health Sociology Review, 15 pages. doi:10.1080/14461242.2020.1846581

Mohamed Shaburdin, Z., Anam, M., Mitchell, O., & Bourke, L. (2020). Interaction Matters! The Experiences of Diverse Residents of Shepparton using Health Services. Shepparton: Department of Rural Health, The University of Melbourne.


Crouch, A., Bourke, L., & Pierce, D. (2019). The Health of Rural Peoples. In P. Liamputtong (Ed.), Public Health; Local and Global Perspectives (Second ed., pp. 343-358). UK: Cambridge University Press.

Bourke,L., Malatzky, C., Terry, D. (2019). Experiences of Health Care among Refugee and Asylum Seeker Residents in Regional Victoria. Journal of Community Medicine and Health Education, 9(3): 658-665.

Opie, C.A., Gibson-Thorpe, B. Lees, C. and Haines, H. M. (2019). ‘Believe in me and I will believe in myself’, a rural Australian health service learns how to mangan dunguludja ngatan (build strong employment) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: a qualitative study. Human Resources for Health, 17:44.


Chambers, A. H., Tomnay, J., Stephens, K., Crouch, A., Whiteside, M., Love, P., . . . Crowe, P. W. (2018). Facilitators of community participation in an Aboriginal sexual health promotion initiative. Rural and Remote Health , 18(2), 11 pages. doi:10.22605/RRH4245

Malatzky, C., & Bourke, L. (2018). Different perspectives on the key challenges facing rural health: The challenges of power and knowledge. Australian Journal of Rural Health. doi:10.1111/ajr.12436

Malatzky, C., Mitchell, O., & Bourke, L. (2018). Improving inclusion in rural health services for marginalised community members: Developing a process for change. Journal of Social inclusion, 9(1), 21-36. Retrieved from

Malatzky, C., Nixon, R., Mitchell, O., & Bourke, L. (2018). Prioritising the cultural inclusivity of a rural mainstream health service for First Nation Australians: an analysis of discourse and power. Health Sociology Review, 27(3), 248-262. doi:10.1080/14461242.2018.1474720

Mitchell, O., Malatzky, C., Bourke, L., & Farmer, J. (2018). A modified Continuous Quality Improvement approach to improve culturally and socially inclusive care within rural health services. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 26(3), 206-210. doi:10.1111/ajr.12409

Malatzky, C., Mohamed Shaburdin, Z., Mitchell, O., Bourke, L., Farmer, J., Newman, T. (2018) Staff perspectives on young peoples (dis)engagement with a rurally-based youth mental health service. The Department of Rural Health, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne.

Malatzky, C., Mohamed Shaburdin, Z., Mitchell, O., Newman, T. (2018) Exploring regionally-based maternal and child health nurses’ perspectives on, experiences with and practices related to the provision of culturally inclusive health care.  The Department of Rural Health, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne.

Mitchell,O., Bourke,L., Mohamed Shaburdin, Z. (2018). Review of the Koolin Balit Aboriginal Health Cultural Competence Audit Project: Evaluation Report 2018. Shepparton,Vic.: Department of Rural Health, The University of Melbourne.

Opie, C., & Gibson-Thorpe, B. (2018). Mangan Dunguludja Ngatan (Build Strong Employment) Project Report: Mangan unguludja Ngatan (Build Strong Employment) Project Report. (1). Echuca: Echuca Regional Health.