Competition or collaboration in regional Australia? A cross-border and multi-university approach to maximising rural health investments, community health and health workforce outcomes

Danielle White, Debra Jones, Pamela Harvey, Fiona Wright, Laura Tarrant, Louise Hodgetts, Kristy Allen, Steffanie Oxford, Andrina Mitcham, Kendall Livingstone

Research output: Contribution to journalComment / DebateOtherpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Aim: To describe the establishment of a cross-border and multi-university collaboration in rural Australia to mitigate potential competition, maximise Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) Programme investments and regional health workforce outcomes. Context: Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training programme investments have enabled the establishment of 19 Australian University Departments of Rural Health (UDRH) and 17 Rural Clinical Schools. The importance of these investments is acknowledged. However, in regional settings, due to limited clinical placement and training opportunities, there is potential for heightened competition between universities who are operating within shared geographical footprints. Competition between universities risks focusing RHMT programme activity on individual reporting requirements and activities, in preference to: regional needs; existing community–university relationships; and place-based approaches to health workforce development. Participants: A rural New South Wales and Victorian RHMT-funded departments, collectively known as the Sunraysia Collaboration. Approach: Strategic and operational processes, structures and actions underpinning collaboration formation and relationship consolidation will be described. Co-design methodologies employed to collectively define collaboration vision and aims, governance framework and guiding principles, reporting structures and co-contributions to teaching, research and service will be discussed. Collaboration sensitivity to the social, cultural, relationship and economic connectedness within the region and existing health workforce flows will also be explored. Conclusion: The Sunraysia collaboration demonstrates one approach towards mitigating potential competition between RHMT Programme funded universities within rural and remote Australia. The collaboration is an exemplar of co-design in action providing an alternative approach to address RHMT Programme parameters and regional needs whilst supporting rural-remote health workforce training and education innovations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-829
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Journal of Rural Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • collaboration
  • community based education
  • Governance
  • primary health care approaches
  • rural and remote education

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