In 1996 the Australian Government decided to establish six University Departments of Rural Health (UDRH) across the country. The Government’s intent was to create rurally-based academic centres to support the growth and development of a multidisciplinary rural health workforce to better meet the needs of people in rural and remote locations.

Between 1996 and 2001 nine UDRHs were established across the country. (1)

1997     University of Sydney, Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health, NSW

1997     James Cook University, Murtupuni Centre for Rural and Remote Health, QLD 

1997     University of South Australia, Department of Rural Health, Whyalla, SA

1997     University of Tasmania, Centre for Rural Health, Launceston, Tas

1998     Flinders University Centre for Rural and Remote Health NT, Alice Springs, NT

1999     Western Australia Centre for Rural Health, Geraldton, WA

1999     University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health, Shepparton, Vic

1999     Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health (2)

2001     University of Sydney, University Centre for Rural Health, Northern Rivers, NSW

During this period, staff from across the UDRH network would meet to share learnings and collaborate on research and projects, as well as provide advice to the Australian Government and the Department of Health on rural and remote health issues.

In 2001, the nine UDRHS decided to formally establish ARHEN to better support communication and collaboration across the network, as well as to enable regular engagement with the Australian Government, the Department of Health and other rural health stakeholders.

In the subsequent years, additional UDRHs were established by successive Australian governments.

2002     University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health, Tamworth, NSW

2006     Monash Rural Health, Bendigo, Vic

2016     Deakin Rural Health, Warrnambool, Vic

2016     Flinders University Rural and Remote Health SA, Renmark, SA

2017     Marjalin Kimberley Centre for Remote Health, Broome, WA

2017     Southern Queensland Rural Health, Toowoomba, QLD

2017     Charles Sturt University, Three Rivers Department of Rural Health, Wagga Wagga, NSW

2019     La Trobe University, La Trobe Rural Health School, Bendigo, Vic

2022    James Cook University, Central QLD Centre for Rural and Remote Health, Emerald, QLD

2023    Curtin University, Goldfields Department of Rural Health, Kalgoorlie, WA

2023   Edith Cowan University, Department of Rural Health South West, Bunbury, WA

(1)    For a comprehensive history see Two decades of building capacity in rural health education, training and research in Australia:  University Departments of Rural Health and Rural Clinical Schools by David Lyle and Jennene Greenhill, Australian Journal of Rural Health (2018) 26, 314-322.

(2)    In 2016, the Greater Green UDRH was restructured into two new UDRHs – Deakin Rural Health and Flinders University Rural and Remote Health SA.