Appointment of first National Rural Health Commissioner

Emeritus Professor Paul Worley will become Australia’s first National Rural Health Commissioner, working to improve access to medical services for all who call regional, rural and remote Australia home.


Federal Assistant Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie MP, today announced Professor Worley’s appointment at the Rural Medicines Australia Conference in Melbourne.


“Professor Worley will be a determined, effective and passionate advocate for strengthening rural health outcomes across Australia,” Dr Gillespie said.


“I look forward to working collaboratively with him to progress regional and rural health reform.”


Professor Worley has had a distinguished career in rural health, both as a practitioner and an academic. Throughout his career he has practised as a GP in various locations, including at the present time in a rural practice in South Australia, 90km from Adelaide.


From 2007 - 2017 he was Dean of Medicine at Flinders University in South Australia. He has also held senior leadership roles with the Rural Doctors Association of South Australia and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.


“At Flinders University, Professor Worley developed programs which are now recognised globally as models for establishment of rural medical education,” Dr Gillespie said.


“He also has a deep understanding of the work rural doctors do. He has continued to work part-time as a GP in rural South Australia.”


As the Commissioner, Professor Worley will consult with a wide range of health professionals and stakeholders to improve rural health policies and champion the cause of rural practice.


His first priority will be to develop National Rural Generalist Pathways, to provide training, recognition and appropriate remuneration for the complex demands on doctors working outside major cities.


“While developing pathways for rural doctors is a top priority, the Commissioner will also consider the needs of the nursing, dental health, pharmacy, Indigenous health, mental health, midwifery, occupational therapy, physical therapy and allied health workforce in rural areas,” Dr Gillespie said.


The Commissioner will be a member of the Federal Coalition Government’s Rural Health Stakeholder Roundtable and the Rural Health Distribution Working Group which is reviewing systems to encourage more doctors to regional and remote areas.


Watch the 14 minute address and announcement of Australia's first National Rural Health Commissioner by Federal Assistant Minister for Health, Dr David Gillespie and a presentation from Emeritus Professor Paul Worley, Rural Health Commissioner at


21 October 2017.