Linking and supporting University Departments of Rural Health across Australia


The Australian Rural Health Education Network or ARHEN is the national peak body for Australia’s University Departments of Rural Health (UDRHs) in every State and the NT.  There are 16 UDRHs around Australia – all are part of ARHEN.

ARHEN provides leadership and advice through a national voice on:

  • training and development of rural and remote health professionals
  • development of career pathways for allied health and nursing professionals
  • opportunities for the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program to enhance its effectiveness and reach
  • innovative solutions to increasing rural and remote health research capacity.

ARHEN aims to work collaboratively with its many stakeholders on multidisciplinary rural and remote health workforce issues, with a focus on four key areas:

  • building capacity of the rural and remote health workforce through student placements, education and health professional support
  • enhancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing
  • extending evidence in rural and remote health
  • working with and for rural and remote communities across Australia.

ARHEN also supports six UDRH staff networks which report to the Board. These are Service Learning, Executive Officers, Mental Health Academics, Rural Pharmacists Support, Student Placement Coordination and the Aboriginal Staff Alliance. Each works to their own Terms of Reference and meets regularly to provide members with opportunities to inform policy development, share information, promote programs and projects and offer support and mentorship.

UDRHs were first established about 20 years ago. The network has since grown to become diverse and complementary, forming the most significant rural health academic consolidation in Australia.

UDRHs support clinical placements in rural and remote locations for health science students from universities across Australia. Well-supported placements have been shown to encourage students to return to these locations to work professionally after graduation. This is an improtnat part of addressing health professional workforce shortages in rural and remote Australia.

UDRHs focus on expanding and enhancing the rural and remote health workforce through multidisciplinary education and training, research, professional support and service development. They form the only rurally based academic units that work with all health disciplines at both
undergraduate and postgraduate levels and with the existing workforce, comitted to ensuring the health workforce needs of rural and remote areas are addressed by national strategies.




Updated: July 2019

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