AITHM James Cook University

The Northern Australia Health Service Delivery Situational Analysis project was an initiative of the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA). The project was a policy-focussed consultancy that involved the production of a health-sector-focussed situational analysis report following extensive stakeholder consultation across the north.  The contracted project participants were:

  • James Cook University (project leader)
  • Northern Territory Top End Health Service
  • University of Western Australia Rural Clinical School
  • Hospital and Health Services in northern Queensland through the Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre.

These consortium partners worked closely with state and territory government departments and health services, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and other health and community stakeholder groups using a collaborative scoping and problem-solving approach.

Why was the project needed?

Communities across northern Australia face similar issues in health care delivery, with small dispersed populations, sometimes challenging geographies, limited resources and workforce and proximity to developing tropical economies in Asia and the Pacific.

Despite the shared context of health care delivery, planning and responses to health care challenges are often siloed between the three northern jurisdictions. There is an opportunity to take a northern Australia -wide view in identifying and communicating the key challenges and areas for future development and opportunity.


The project identified eight priority actions based on the findings of the desktop-based analysis and stakeholder consultations across the Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory health jurisdictions:

  1. Support and enhance formal education and training of a fit-for-purpose culturally competent health workforce across all health disciplines and elements of rural health training pipelines;
  2. Enhance professional support, career development and career pathways for rural health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce across all health disciplines;
  3. Establish a cross-jurisdictional northern Australian health system network as an independent body;
  4. Determine need and mechanisms to finance appropriate health service delivery models for rural and remote health service delivery;
  5. Improve local amenities and infrastructure across sectors to reduce effects of adverse social determinants on health outcomes;
  6. Undertake trials to develop and scale up place-based planning models;
  7. Strengthen and grow northern-led research capacity and funding; and
  8. Explore potential areas of export opportunity that deliver value for northern Australia.

Implementing these actions will: improve the health and productivity of northern Australian populations; reduce health system costs associated with high PPH, duplication of services and workforce turnover; empower local communities to develop solutions and have more control of their health and wellbeing; and strengthen northern Australia’s strategic role and capacity within the broader Asia Pacific region.  

Further details can be found in the project reports below.

Reports and contact information:

CRCNA Northern Australia Health Service Delivery Situational Analysis - Full_ report (144 pages)

CRCNA Northern Australia Health Service Delivery Situational Analysis - Summary (20 pages)

CRCNA Northern Australia Health Service Delivery Situational Analysis - Snapshot (4 pages)

CRCNA Webinar 

Please feel free to direct any enquiries to the JCU-based project team (Alex Edelman, Prof Maxine Whittaker, Prof Sarah Larkins, A/Prof Steph Topp and Jasmine Bell) by email:

Background to the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA):

The CRCNA was established by the Australian Government in 2017 as a core element of the Government’s agenda for developing the north. With a budget of $75 million over ten years, the CRCNA brings together industry, research organisations and the three northern jurisdictions of Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland to identify and resource developmental opportunities in key industry areas including food, agriculture and health.