Australia’s first Indigenous pharmacist, Associate Professor Dr Faye McMillan started in her new role this week, as one of two new Deputy National Rural Health Commissioners that will play a key role in the Federal Government’s agenda to increase access to rural health services and address rural workforce shortages.
Federal Rural Health Minister, Mark Coulton and National Rural Health Commissioner, Professor Ruth Stewart met with Dr McMillan today in Wagga Wagga to congratulate her and discuss priorities for the role.
Minister Coulton welcomed Professor Stewart’s recruitment of Dr McMillan, a Wiradjuri yinaa (woman), to the newly created Deputy Commissioner role and acknowledged her expertise and diverse experience in the rural health sector, including her work to establish Indigenous Allied Health Australia.
“Dr McMillan brings significant rural health experience, including as a practising rural pharmacist, to the role as Deputy Rural Health Commissioner,” Minister Coulton said.
“Expanding the Office to include expertise across a range of important health disciplines will support the Government’s focus to develop team-based, collaborative and sustainable approaches to delivering health care in the bush.
“The Federal Government has shown its willingness to tackle head on the challenges delivering health services in rural and regional Australia, and Dr McMillan’s appointment further demonstrates that commitment to make the regions a better place to live.
“The Office will contribute to significant health reforms already underway, including primary care, workforce and training reforms, as well as continuing to the support the Government’s ongoing rural response to COVID-19 and the vaccine rollout.”
Last year the Federal Government expanded the Office of the National Rural Health Commissioner to have a broader focus, which included appointing two Deputy Commissioners to represent and advocate for allied health, nursing and Indigenous health disciplines.
“Dr McMillan will be an outstanding deputy and will bring her multidisciplinary expertise to my Office and allow us to take a broader perspective on rural health,” Professor Stewart said.
“Working with my new team, this is an exciting challenge to develop and promote innovative and integrated approaches to health care delivery in rural and remote areas.
“The breadth of expertise in my team across rural health professions establishes the foundations to look at how different disciplines can work together to deliver the best possible services in rural and remote communities.”
Dr McMillan is an Associate Professor in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, School of Population Health at the University of New South Wales, and a founding member and former Chair of Indigenous Allied Health Australia, and the 2019 NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year.
“I look forward to working alongside the National Rural Health Commissioner Professor Stewart in the role and acknowledge the Government and Minister Coulton in ensuring the diversity of the rural workforce is represented,” Dr McMillan said.
“It is vital that current and future rural health professionals are acknowledged for their significant contribution in the delivery of health services to our remote, rural and regional areas across this nation.”
Dr McMillan is appointed Deputy Commissioner until 30 June 2022.
A second Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner is on track to be appointed in coming weeks.