Outback to the Capital

(l-r) Federal Assistant Minister for Rural Health, Dr David Gillespie MP; RDAA President, Dr Ewen McPhee; Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull; and RDAA CEO Peta Rutherford 

Peta with Senator Bridget McKenzie discuss Rural health policy and strategy.

Peta Rutherford grew up in Wodonga, enjoying the best rural and regional life had to offer. She worked for Medicare for 10 years, and from there given an opportunity with Queensland Health which would move her from city living in Brisbane to experience remote living in Charleville and rural living in Kingaroy. Peta was a member of the team back in 2005/06 that worked on the Queensland Rural Generalist Pathway. This was in addition to a number of other medical workforce projects, including the medical recruitment campaigns for Qld Health, registrar training expansion that she undertook in four years working in QH Corporate Office.


A new adventure saw her move with her family out to Charleville to take on a hospital management role in the South West Health Service  District. This was a significant change from project and strategic planning work in corporate office to front line health service management of Charleville, Cunnamulla hospitals, Augathella, and Quilpie MPHS’, Morven and Thargomindah outpatients and Waroona Residential Aged Care facility. She learnt more about river systems and stock route maintenance than she ever thought she would need to, but with the 2009 Charleville floods, and the evacuation of the hospital and the aged care facility, it certainly came in handy.

Charleville Hospital Flood

After three years in Charleville, Peta moved her family to Kingaroy the peanut Capital to commence as the Cluster Operations Manager responsible for the facilities in the South Burnett region of Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service. During her four years there, she was a recommencement of surgical services at Kingaroy, initial planning for a new facility at Kingaroy, commenced a patient transport system to support South Burnett people accessing services at Toowoomba Hospital, and an expansion of the Kingaroy renal service. 

The peanut silos in Haly Street are Kingaroys  tallest structures and most visible landmark.

Now as the Chief Executive Officer of Rural Doctors Association of Australia, she will apply her knowledge from over 20 years experience in the health sector, and her understanding having lived in these communities to advocate at a national level for improved access to services and for more care to be delivered locally where it is safe to do so. Still getting used to the cold, but has survived her first Canberra Winter.

View of Canberra from Duntroon Royal Military college

Rural Doctors Association of Australia Website

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