The Australian Government has made improving healthcare services in rural areas of Australia its top priority in the national health reform programme.

A total of $189.6m (AU$206m) has been allotted to deal with the shortage of clinical staff and to provide better training and support for the rural and remote health workforce.

The government has also announced a $123.7m (AU$134.4m) four-year package of incentives and reforms to encourage doctors to work in Australia’s rural and remote communities.

Funds of $91.6m (AU$99.7m) will be provided over two years from 2008 to 2010 to expand primary primary healthcare services, regional reforms, capital and infrastructure, and building workforce capacity in rural areas.