Keeping Australia Alive: The Geography of Health


When a cyclone ravages your community, where do you find medical help? If you live five hours from the nearest doctor, how do you get someone to check out that mole on your back? If you unexpectedly go into labour on a remote island, who will make sure you and your baby survive? The geography of Australia poses serious challenges to accessible healthcare. This session brings together an intensive care retrieval paramedic, a telehealth manager and a GP-obstetrician from the Royal Flying Doctor Service, each with a unique perspective and some interesting stories, to discuss how we can overcome these challenges.


Mr Shaun Whitmore

Shaun is a MICA flight paramedic with Air Ambulance Victoria, a teaching associate at Monash University, a lecturer in wilderness medicine and a team leader for the National Critcal Care and Trauma Response Centre in Darwin. He has extensive experience as an intensive care paramedic and retrieval paramedic, working in rural and remote Australia and in Papua New Guinea. Shaun is also experienced in the disaster realm, including work during the Black Saturday bushfires and the Samoan tsunami of 2009, for which he received the National Emergency Medal and Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal respectively.

Ms Alice King

Alice King manages and supports digital health innovation and implementation across 16 health services in the Barwon South West region of Victoria. In the past 4.5 years in this role, she has supported the implementation of telehealth access for coordinated emergency and urgent care across the region, facilitated the introduction of Healthdirect Video Call to enable easy consumer access to local and remote health care appointments, supported the use of telehealth access for clinical support, education and training and is supporting the remote patient monitoring program at Barwon Health. In the past two and a half years she has been working as co-lead on the successful development of the Telehealth Victoria Community of Practice, alongside managing implementation of telehealth access to specialist clinics at Barwon Health. She contributed to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services Reference Group which provided strategic guidance for developing a state-wide telehealth capability and sits on the DHHS Healthdirect Video Call Advisory Group. She is also an Australasian Telehealth Society Committee member, representing Victoria.

Dr Anita Moss

Anita Moss is a GP obstetrician working for RFDS, providing a monthly Women’s Health GP service in Robinvale, Victoria. Since completing her GP fellowship in 2008, she has provided primary health care services in both metropolitan and rural areas around Australia, to our Indigenous people and to patients from disadvantaged backgrounds. She also works in an Antenatal clinic/Early Pregnancy Assessment Service in a regional public hospital. She finds practicing medicine in areas isolated by geographical location is both challenging and difficult. The health inequalities between people who have poor access to comprehensive medical services, and those who don’t, are significant. There is increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke and complex mental illness. Perinatal outcomes for mothers and babies are typically poor. As a doctor, Anita can find it incredibly frustrating to manage patients with complex medical issues holistically, when they have to travel hours by road or even by plane to the nearest city to obtain ultrasounds or CT scans necessary for assessment of health care problems. Having said all that….she feels an enormous sense of meaning and purpose that comes from doing the best she can for her patients, despite having little to work with. She wouldn’t have it any other way.