Integrating Health Care Planning for Health and Prosperity in North Queensland

Reference number
CRCNA funding
Total project value
Project length
3 years
Finish date
Project Status
Project Manager
Ian Biggs
Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre Ltd (TAAHC)


  • James Cook University (JCU)
  • Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC)
  • Western Queensland Primary Care Collaborative Ltd (Western Queensland Primary Health Network)
  • Northern Territory of Australia (Department of Health NT)
  • University of Western Australia - The Rural Clinical School of Western Australia


Investing in the health workforce and related improvement in models of care can be a strong economic driver for prosperity; a health community is a necessary pre-requisite for economic development. There are many similarities in health challenges and service delivery across Northern Australia, with small, dispersed populations in challenging geographies. Despite this, lack of coordination in planning and delivery of health services across the spectrum from community to primary to hospital care leads to inefficiencies, duplication, gaps and less than optimal health and economic outcomes.

Building on findings from the Northern Australian Health Situational Analysis, this project will create integrated systems for identifying and mapping population need, health services and workforce, prioritising areas for action. This work brings together key public and private health system partners across North Queensland, including Hospital and Health Services, Primary Health Networks and the Community Controlled Health Sector to take a regional approach to strengthening the integration of care and place-based planning of workforce and service implementation in North Queensland.

Working with partners in Northern Territory and Western Australia will ensure share key lessons across the north. This work presents a pragmatic, collaborative and scalable body of work that offers real, direct benefits to industry partners and the community and economy of Northern Australia.

Expected outcomes

The project is expected to deliver impact in terms of improved health and wellbeing of the  north Queensland community, as a direct result of the project activities through more effective, re-designed health care delivery. This will be measured and costed in terms of population level measures of health and wellbeing (physical and mental health) in the four localities of co-design as well as the impact in terms of potentially preventable hospitalisations. In addition, it will develop the capabilities of local service providers and communities to engage in participatory processes to improve care.

It will also deliver increased gross domestic product in Northern Australia, with three mechanisms for economic impact of this body of work that can be costed.

  1. Direct return on investment from place-based planning models strengthening Primary Health Care. Based on NT work, each $1 invested in PHC is likely to generate $4-12 in returns beyond the direct health benefits (Zhao et al., 2014).
  2. Healthier populations more able to work and thus generate more GDP.
  3. Stronger learning health systems will attract more health and research investment to NA that in turn increases GDP. The return on investment from health research investment in northern Australia has been calculated at $3.90 per every $1.00 invested (KPMG, 2018). Thus this project itself, through injecting an extra $2m into the NQ setting, could leverage a ROI of $7.8 million.
  4. This project will also effectively generate and fund 10.6 person years of employment to conduct the research as described, with additional spin off impacts in terms of support to transport, accommodation and hospitality industries as well as education and training.