Perspectives of ‘power’ in rural health and remote health

Perspectives of ‘power’ in rural health and remote health Conference Paper

12th National Rural Health Conference: Strong Commitment Bright Future

  • Author(s): Lisa Bourke, John S Humphreys, Judy Taylor, John Wakerman
  • Published: 2013

Abstract: This paper proposes that much of what happens in rural health and remote health involves ‘power’. Power is at the core of election outcomes and policy responses to these outcomes; it is central to how decisions are made in government, community and health service arenas; it manifests in who leads particular initiatives and who resists them; and it underpins the knowledge held by health professionals. Power plays a strong role in determining rural and remote health outcomes. In the health social sciences, power is an important variable,1–4 but it has not been analysed in detail in rural and remote health. When developing a conceptual framework to understand rural and remote health outcomes across Australia, we identified power as one of six key variables in this framework. Along with location, the rural locale and local health responses were macro level drivers from both health systems and broader social structures. Connecting these five concepts was the concept of power.5,6 Power shapes what happened at the local level through community structures and networks as well as the actions of particular health champions. Power also shapes what happened at the structural level through funding or lack of it for rural, remote and Aboriginal health. Power also moulds how Australians think about rural and remote places—do we view them as beautiful, serene and desirable work environments or the middle of nowhere, boring and death of a career.

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Suggested Citation
Lisa Bourke, John S Humphreys, Judy Taylor, John Wakerman, 2013, Perspectives of ‘power’ in rural health and remote health, Conference Paper, viewed 15 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3115.

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