Last week, I asked Croakey readers what they wanted to hear from the national rural health conference, which starts in Perth today.

Here are the suggestions that have arrived via email, blog comments, and Twitter:

• We would like to ask any policy-makers in attendance when a national program for skin cancer prevention will be developed? (This follows the release last week of Cancer Council Victoria research showing higher melanoma rates in rural Victoria and the launch of a campaign to raise awareness about skin cancer among farmers).

• Rural and remote health services do not seem to work well together when it comes to applying for infrastructure funding. Why don’t they pool their experiences and work more cohesively and systematically?

• Any ideas about how to reach out to new consumers/professionals to participate in the Twitter chat group about health care and social media, #hcsmanz, would be handy.

• Why don’t you explore the “myth” of the struggling rural doctor? Do rural doctors do themselves (& their patients) a disservice by crying poor? Is one answer to rural workforce shortages to shout from the rooftops how much money rural docs (or some of them at least) actually make? “Come to the bush and get rich” might do more to attract docs than the constant refrain of “Life’s tough out here”.

• I’d like to see your analysis of a rural and remote perspective on health care reform as presented and discussed at the conference. The deficit view of rural health creates, amongst other things, a real barrier to workforce recruitment and is not a realistic representation of the bush. So more coverage of the innovation and positive aspects of rural and especially remote life and work would be appreciated.

• An update on progress with training Rural Generalists would be good.

• The impact of chronic disease and the relationship between that and the broader issue of workforce structure and operation and numbers.

• MensLine Australia: improving access to support for Australian men, Randal Newton-John, on Monday at 11:25am would be good

• Please cover the beyondblue mental health stream.

• Is there any interest in implementing rural mental health proposals that came out of recent Heywire forum (a rural youth forum)?

• More focus on gender and health please. One reader wanted more on men, others wanted to hear about women’s health, eg: “Can someone look at rural women’s cardiac health monitoring vs. men’s?”

• Gavin Mooney’s session on citizens’ juries in rural areas and Deborah Russell’s on strengthening the evidence base for rural health workforce retention.

• Requests to report on the presentation regarding young people’s sexual health, and the sessions on interprofessional learning.

• Gauging/developing interest in and application of assistive technologies in rural areas would be beneficial. These are technology that supports safety, security, diagnostics, monitoring.

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Clearly, I won’t be able to get to cover all of these issues for Croakey. I will do what I can and keep the requests in mind for future stories as well.

Perhaps others involved in preparing conference reports may be able to help as well…

PS If you’re tweeting from the conference, it’s #ruralhealthconf

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