Ita Buttrose AC, OBE - an icon of the Australian media and wider community - is announced as a keynote speaker for this year's Rural Medicine Australia 2019 (RMA19) conference.

RMA19 is the premier annual conference for rural and remote doctors and is hosted by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA).

It will be held at the Gold Coast this October, and is anticipated to attract over 600 rural doctors, medical students, policy makers and others from across Australia.

Ms Buttrose is a legendary media trailblazer, businesswoman, best-selling author, committed community and welfare contributor, and former Australian of the Year.

She was the first woman to edit a major metropolitan newspaper in Australia, was the founding editor of Cleo, and earlier this year was appointed Chair of the ABC.

She serves as National Ambassador of Dementia Australia (having also served as National President), and is Patron of the Macular Disease Foundation, Emeritus Director of Arthritis Australia and Ambassador for the Breast Cancer Network Australia.

Ms Buttrose received an AO for her services to the community (especially in the field of public health education when she spearheaded Australia's HIV/AIDS Education Program); an OBE for her services to journalism; and a Centenary Medal for business leadership.

This year she became a Companion of the Order of Australia for her service to the community through leadership in the media, the arts, the health sector and as a role model.

RDAA President, Dr Adam Coltzau, says: "We are extremely excited to be welcoming Ms Buttrose to RMA19. She truly epitomises the theme of RMA19, Riding the wave of change – indeed, she has been a trailblazer in this regard.

“The rural medical sector is experiencing significant change, and although challenges remain, much of this change is positive.

“With funding now allocated for the initial rollout of the National Rural Generalist Pathway, we are seeing substantial interest from medical students and junior doctors in a career as a Rural Generalist doctor.

“Rural Medicine is also experiencing change, with a move away from the ‘traditional’ rural doctor who worked 24/7 to the next generation of rural doctors who want a better work-life balance.

“And there is increased feminisation of the rural medical workforce, which is a great thing for both the rural medical sector itself and for rural patients.

“We really look forward to hearing Ms Buttrose’s address on the topic Coping with change – successfully!

ACRRM President, Dr Ewen McPhee, says: "As in previous years, those attending RMA19 will be spoiled for choice when it comes to our great conference program and what is on offer.

“Not only will they hear from inspiring keynotes like Ms Buttrose, they will also be treated to a packed program of policy sessions and discussions on a diverse range of rural health topics, as well as a wide selection of clinical upskilling workshops.

“Delegates will be entertained at the RMA Great Debate, where last year’s winning team of rural medicos will be pitched against new challengers on the topic of how to get more doctors to work in rural areas - ‘Juicy Carrots or Big Sticks – what works for the Bush?’

“And they will be able to attend the RMA Presidents Breakfast, sponsored by MDA National, which will hear the presidents of ACRRM, RDAA, the Australian Medical Association, the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland, and the Australian Association of Practice Managers, discuss key issues at the heart of rural healthcare.

“Our Gala Awards dinner will also be a very memorable evening, where we honour those who are making a significant difference in Rural and Remote Medicine and in their local community.

“With the program for RMA19 soon to be released and early bird registrations open until 30 June, there has never been a better time to book your spot at Australia’s peak rural doctor event."