Midwest & Murchison Health Region

“leading the way in building a healthy rural community”

On 6 June, 2002 the Minister for Health announced a range of reforms within the rural sector that would establish six administrative regions under a newly formed WA Country Health Service. These changes were formally ratified in the Government Gazette on 28 June, 2002 to have effect from 1 July, 2002.

Health Regions of Western Australia

The Midwest & Murchison Health Region was established through the amalgamation of the then existing Geraldton, Midwest and Murchison Health Services.

The Midwest and Murchison region covers an area of over 470,000 square kilometres, nearly a fifth of the State.  The population of the region is concentrated along the coast with more than 71% living around Geraldton-Greenough.  The region has a high Aboriginal population, and an increasing proportion of aged people.  Whilst the population is growing along the coast, the inland population has been declining slightly.

Geraldton is the regional centre and the only non-metropolitan town in WA other than Bunbury that has both a public and private hospital and provides access to a broad range of specialist health services.  Plans are underway for the rebuilding of Geraldton health campus with works commencing by November, 2003.  Geraldton is also the base for the Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health (CUCRH) which works across medicine, nursing and allied health teaching programs to support the attraction and retention of the rural health workforce.

Distance and isolation are key factors influencing the health needs and provision of services.  The Murchison has a strong health promotion focus, and has recently established a number of Community Resource Centres in partnership with the Department for Community Development and local Aboriginal agencies.

The coastal parts of the Midwest together with the Wheatbelt health region have a large number of small, often under-utilised hospitals.  The Multi-Purpose Service (MPS) program has provided an ideal opportunity to pool the resources of health related services within a community to provide a flexible, innovative service that is geared to the particular needs of each community.  Rural WA has led Australia with the development of MPS sites.