The Spinifex Network

The Rural Health and Medical Research Network – the Spinifex Network – is a consortium and coalition of more than 50 rural and regional health organisations across Australia. Spinifex exists to:

  • Improve access to healthcare that meets the needs of rural communities, through technology, workforce and innovative care delivery; and
  • Increase support for sustainable rural communities by responding to the unique health challenges of place.

It also works to strengthen Indigenous health, build rural research capacity and increase rural prosperity.

Our Challenge

Thirty per cent of Australians live in rural, regional and remote Australia but have substantially poorer physical and mental health than those in cities.

Life expectancy in regional areas is one to two years lower than in metropolitan areas, and up to seven years lower in remote areas. These figures are even worse for Indigenous Australians.

There is increasing emphasis on getting more doctors and allied health professionals into rural Australia, but little focus on boosting health and medical research – not only research about rural populations, but research actually done in these regions.

It is well-documented that different models of healthcare are needed in regional Australia to deal with delivery, access and costs – there is no similar strategy for funding and rolling out medical research in the bush.


To achieve genuine research outcomes that benefit regional Australia, research needs to be done in collaboration with patients, consumers, practitioners, healthcare networks and system managers who work in and know the concerns of rural communities.

On 12-13 November 2020, fifty leaders in health and medical research from across Australia gathered in Alice Springs for the Spinifex Symposium. The purpose was to start a connected conversation about a dedicated Rural Health and Medical Research Alliance as an innovative and functional way to improve the health of regional, rural and remote Australians.

From this discussion, the Spinifex Network was born.

People living in rural, regional and remote locations deserve better health.
We will be rigorous and use creative and non-traditional research approaches to improve health outcomes for these Australians.
Our strength is in our rural roots, our will to collaborate and make change happen.
Spinifex, where it grows in the desert and near the coast, is a symbol of resilience.
It can withstand storms, winds and king tides.
It has deep roots, it resists drought and stabilises the earth.

– a collective statement of purpose and intent for the Spinifex Network, endorsed by participants at the Spinifex Symposium, Alice Springs, November 13, 2019.

Our Activity

Lobby for funding

We lobby for dedicated funding for rural health and medical research. To facilitate this, we will develop an economic case for investing in rural research, as well as identify missed opportunities and successful place-based solutions for our members. Currently we’re conducting rapid reviews on key rural health challenge topics.

Connect rural researchers

We connect rural researchers across Australia. We have over 50 members spread across over 140 locations in all Australian states and territories. We are a diverse and committed group from research, teaching and community organisations, as well as health services and policy units. 

Identify priorities & targets

We identify detailed rural research priorities and measurable targets. Most recently this has included the use of telehealth in rural settings.


We participate in national discussions about issues that concern our communities.

Entrepreneurship scheme

We will run a national rural health entrepreneurship scheme.

Training & development

We will provide tailored training and development.

Network Contact

Contact: Liz Egan


Office of Strategy Management
University of New England
Armidale NSW 2351


+61 (0)2 6773 1868
0404 418 573

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