Allied Health Rural Generalist Training Program – Experiences from the top end

Ms Justine Williams1, Ms Renae Moore1

1Top End Health Services, Casuarina, Australia

Introduction: The Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway is a strategy to build the capacity, value and sustainability of allied health services and multi-disciplinary teams in rural and remote areas.  The components of an allied health rural generalist pathway are:

  1. Service models that address the challenges of providing the broad range of healthcare needs of rural and remote communities,
  2. Workforce and employment structures that support the development of rural generalist practice capabilities, and
  3. an education program tailored to the needs of rural generalist practitioners.

This paper provides an overview of the application of the Allied Health Rural Generalist Training Program in the Top End from 2017 to date, shares the key learnings of our journey so far and our plans for the program moving forward.

Implementation: In 2017, the Top End Health Services committed to funding four rural generalist training positions for up to two years on a rolling funding basis. The initial cohort, with trainees from the professions of podiatry, pharmacy and speech pathology, commenced in July 2017 and concluded their traineeship in December 2018. A further trainee, a physiotherapy graduate joined the program in April 2018.

Discussion of Challenges & Opportunities: The vast geography of the Top End combined with small and disparate populations covered by the Top End Health Services of the Northern Territory provide great challenges in delivering comprehensive integration of care close to homes.   Unique challenges experienced with this program have included engagement with the many stakeholders about the strategy, the scope of the service development projects and “isolation” of the graduates from their professional colleagues.  Learnings from the initial cohort will be applied to the next cohort of graduates due to commence in early 2019.


Renae’s professional background is a speech pathologist with experience in remote, rural and urban settings across health, education and community sectors. Renae has been actively involved in rural and remote allied health issues at a local, State/Territory and national level throughout her career More recently, Renae has worked in a variety of senior policy and project roles across aboriginal health, early childhood intervention, aged and disability; and workforce strategy; including the position of Principal Allied Health Advisor for NT Health. Currently, Renae is the Executive Director Allied Health with Top End Health Services.

Justine Williams is the TEHS Allied Health Workforce Development Officer. She has worked for many years as an Occupational Therapist, Team Leader and Manager in a variety of health settings in the Northern Territory.  She is based in Darwin and has had oversight of the Allied Health Rural Generalist Training Program since 2017.

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