Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia, 16–18 November 2021 2021

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Dr Keith McNaught

Rural Academic Lead and Associate Professor, Curtin Medical School, Curtin University

Dr Keith McNaught


Sustainable rural and regional development will only be secure when accompanied by the development of a strong rural medical and health workforce.

In 2020, the rapid uptake of technologies enabling people to work from home resulted in a phase of internal migration, from urban to rural, unlike anything seen in recent times. Sustainable community growth must be accompanied by the development of a strong rural medical and health workforce, potentially adding pressure to an already-strained rural medical workforce.

This is of particular concern in ‘hard to staff’ locations, such as the Goldfields region in Western Australia. In these communities, local regional governments have been increasingly assuming at least some financial responsibility for the local health workforce and businesses are paying the price of poor employee and family access to health services. What does the current internal migration pattern mean for these stakeholders? How will it affect different communities around Australia?

Using the Kalgoorlie/Goldfields region as a case study, this paper explores the implications of changing demographics on the medical and health workforce needs on regional, rural and remote Australia. In common with many regions throughout Australia, there are locations within the Goldfields that will never have a resident medical and health workforce, where solutions will be essential for the continued growth of the region.

This paper explores one such solution. The paper will be of interest to rural community and business leaders from around Australia with interest in building a strong medical and health workforce for their community and region.


Keith is currently Associate Professor at the Curtin Medical School and Rural Academic Lead at the Kalgoorlie Rural Health Campus, specialising in Rural and Regional programs.

Keith has served in a number of senior leadership and executive director roles in the education and healthcare sectors. He has developed expertise in the leadership of major change projects, including the implementation of a total restructure of a regional university campus. He has extensive experience in budgetary controls and data analytics in organisations with annual revenue exceeding $1.6 billion, and a national reputation for leading organisational development within the context of mission-led, values- based, ethical leadership principles.

Keith has been active in a range of programs and projects across Western Australia including Broome, Kalgoorlie, Mullewa, Geraldton and Bunbury. Keith is also Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Ethics & Society, Notre Dame, Sydney campus.