Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath recently visited health service providers in East Gippsland and listened to concerns about attracting and retaining medical professionals in country areas.
Ms Bath met with health professionals at Omeo District Health, Orbost Regional Health and Swifts Creek Bush Nursing Centre to learn more about the health providers and listen to any concerns they may have.
“It was really a pleasure to meet these wonderful hard-working professionals and hear how they manage to cater for the needs of country people with what can often be limited resources,” Ms Bath said.
“There was a common theme that our rural areas are still struggling to entice and retain doctors and medical specialists and this is an area that deserves attention from the Victorian State Government.”
Ms Bath said federally the Coalition had recently introduced new payments to help rural, regional and remote towns across Australia.
As of July 1st the highest incentive paid to a doctor to work in remote Australia jumped from $47,000 a year to $60,000 a year and the maximum incentive to work in a town less than 5,000 increased from $12,000 to $23,000.
“While this is fantastic news I believe the State Government can also do more to assist small country towns, such as those in East Gippsland, to attract and retain health professionals,” Ms Bath said.
She believes increased job security would assist in achieving this goal.
“I am of the understanding that many of the allied health professionals who move to these areas are contracted on a yearly basis and I was told that if these contracts were offered for longer periods there would be more incentive for these people to work in our country hospitals and health centres,” Ms Bath said.
The Nationals MP said East Gippsland health providers were also working hard to service an increasing ageing population.
“Orbost Regional Health is desperately seeking funding to upgrade its high care nursing home section,” Ms Bath said.
“As Orbost has an ageing population there is more demand for this type of care and the facilities and infrastructure need to be updated to cater for this demand.”
Ms Bath said an upgrade was also needed for the hospital to improve its care for dialysis patients.
“I really have to commend the people at Orbost Regional Health and Omeo District Health for their wonderful passion and care for the people they look after.
“I hope we can work together to ensure that the facilities at these centres can match the high quality of the people working there.”
Ms Bath also enjoyed meeting the staff at Swifts Creek Bush Nursing Centre.
“This is a wonderful one-stop health centre used by the community for a variety of health reasons including for maternal child and health,” Ms Bath said.
“It was fantastic to see the board and staff at Swifts Creek working together to provide the best service possible for local residents.
“I’m committed to working hard with the people of East Gippsland’s health sector to ensure that regional communities have access to quality health and medical services.”
Photo Caption: Swift Creek Bush Nursing Centre office administrator Daryl Millard, nurse manager Sue Carroll, committee of management president Peter Brick and Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath during her visit to Swift Creek Bush Nursing Centre.
Regional jobs and businesses will be some of the hardest hit by the Andrews Labor Government’s two new public holidays, according to the state’s peak tourism body.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said despite Daniel Andrews’ claims that the new holidays would bring tourists to the regions, the truth was that most tourism businesses would not be able to afford to operate on those days.
The Victorian Tourism Industry Council’s Chief Executive Dianne Smith has now warned that: “Ultimately these public holidays will take money away from the businesses that should be supported to increase employment and create jobs.”
“Daniel Andrews is introducing these new public holidays at the expense of regional businesses and jobs,” Mr Walsh said.
“Small businesses will face the choice of either opening and taking a hit to their bottom line due to penalty rates; charging extra for their goods or services to cover the higher wages bill; or shutting their doors altogether.
“More than 353,000 casual workers are expected to lose their shifts on these new public holidays and the state’s economy will take a $1 billion hit.
“This is absolute economic vandalism by Daniel Andrews and will cost regional jobs and businesses dearly.”
Mr Walsh said the tourism body warned that: “Many businesses won’t be able to afford to operate on these public holidays due to increased wages costs and anticipated financial loss, which will be bad for tourism particularly in regional areas.”
An independent report commissioned by Daniel Andrews put the economic cost of the new public holidays at up to $898 million each year and wage payments of up to $286 million each year.
Shadow Minister for Disability Tim Bull and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Autism Bernie Finn recently met with Amaze (formerly Autism Victoria) to discuss the term of reference of its new Inquiry into services for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The Inquiry, to be undertaken by the Family and Community Development Committee, will provide up to date information in a range of areas, including:
- Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Victoria;
- The availability and adequacy of services provided by the commonwealth, state and local governments across health, education, disability, housing, sport and employment services;
- The adequacy of services to be provided under the National Disability Insurance Scheme;
- Evidence of the social and economic cost of failing to provide adequate services; and
- The projected demand for services in Victoria.
“To have these matters being reviewed in a bipartisan approach is welcome and having Bernie, as the first Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Autism, on the Inquiry is very pleasing,” said Mr Bull.
“The Inquiry will draw on the work that was done in the Autism State Plan and it is pertinent that it take place now when the state is transitioning to the NDIS.”
Mr Finn said he believed the terms of reference proposed by the Coalition and approved by the Parliament would allow for all aspects of Autism Spectrum Disorder to be addressed with recommendations that would be very helpful in forming state policy.
“The submission and public hearing process will provide stakeholder groups and all those touched by autism to feed their views and thoughts into the Inquiry,” Mr Finn said.
“The Family and Community Development Committee will report to the Parliament no later than 31 May 2016.”
Emma Kealy, Nationals Member for Lowan is calling for local nominations to the 2016 Victorian Honour Roll of Women (the Honour Roll).
Since its commencement in 2001, the Honour Roll has acknowledged and celebrated the outstanding achievements of 562 Victorian women who have contributed to change across a broad spectrum of passions and interests.
“In my work across the Lowan Electorate I meet many remarkable women, who through their leadership and commitment are making lasting contributions to their regional and rural communities,” Ms Kealy said.
"We have a great depth of talent in many fields of endeavour and the Honour Roll is an excellent initiative to ensure these women receive the recognition they deserve,” she said.
The successful nominees will be announced at a special event in March 2016, to coincide with International Women’s Day celebrations and Ms Kealy said it would be tremendous to see some regional and rural nominations there.
For information on the Honour Roll, including how to nominate, please visit
http://www.dpc.vic.gov.au/index.php/news-publications/victorian-honour-roll-of-women or phone Ms Marina Henley, Manager, Women and Equality on 9651 1102.
Nominations close at 5 pm Friday 21 August 2015.
Ovens Valley communities will soon have improved mobile phone coverage as part of the construction of 109 new or upgraded mobile phone towers across the state.
Locally, new or upgraded towers have been announced for Archerton, Buffalo River, Edi Upper, Eldorado, Havilah, Moyhu and Myrrhee.
Nationals Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy said the announcement would be welcomed by many residents and communities across the region which have been plagued by poor mobile phone coverage for years.
“Poor mobile phone coverage impacts on people in the operation of their businesses, day- to-day communications and during emergency situations,” Mr McCurdy said.
“For all of these reasons, improved mobile phone communication will make a significant difference.”
The federal government has announced these towers as part of its mobile blackspot program, which is being rolled out across regional Australia over three years.
“The former Coalition Government invested $40 million last year to secure funding for Victorian communities so I’m very pleased that we are seeing the result of that hard work,” Mr McCurdy said.
“Poor mobile phone service is one of the issues that is continually raised with me by members of our local communities so it is pleasing that improvements will now be forthcoming.
“Regional and rural Victorians deserve access to good quality mobile phone service and this is a great outcome for our local communities.”
A full list of locations is available at www.communications.gov.au/mobile_coverage
Labor promised 100,000 full-time jobs within two years.
"The Back To Work Act – will support the creation of 100,000 full time jobs and will be introduced during the first sitting week of the new Parliament."
Source: Daniel Andrews media statement - 6 October 2014
"The plan will help create up to 100,000 new jobs in Victoria over the next two years."
Source: Back to Work - Victorian Labor's Plan for 100,000 Jobs
Jobs data source: ABS Labour Force figures - employed full-time persons, seasonally adjusted series (download table 5 and refer to Column S in Data1 tab)
Comments from the Shadow Minister for Young Victorians Steph Ryan:
"Today's announcement is a stark reminder that Daniel Andrews is failing to deliver on his promise to deliver 100,000 full-time jobs in Victoria within two years of coming to office.
"The real issue here is that since Daniel Andrews came to office there are 6,000 fewer full-time jobs in Victoria.
"Daniel Andrews' announcement doesn't address the needs of the most vulnerable young people - given it relies on participants having completed their secondary school education."
On 9 February, Daniel Andrews’ Minister for Training and Skills promised he would release a VET Funding Review interim report within 100 days.
It’s been 121 days since then and there is still no sign of the report.
After spending years calling for more certainty in the sector, Daniel Andrews has left training providers in a state of limbo.
Despite all their promises Daniel Andrews is not investing one additional dollar into skills training in Victoria. His Minister for Training and Skills has even admitted that Labor’s training budget is exactly the same as the former Coalition Government’s budget.
Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan said the Andrews Labor Government was all talk and no action on skills training.
“Daniel Andrews has repeatedly said he will honour ‘each and every one’ of his promises, yet here is another one broken.
“Here we go again - saying one thing before the election, doing another thing after it.
“Labor has not invested one extra dollar in skills training courses and now it has failed to meet its own time-frames for the vocational education and training review.
“Training providers deserve to know the government’s intentions, given the Minister plans to introduce these reforms before the start of the 2016 training year.
“Labor needs to end the talk-fest and start delivering for Victorian students.”
Victorian Shadow Minister for Sport Damian Drum has demanded the Andrews Labor Government release full details of major sporting funds which failed to get a mention in this year’s State Budget.
In Parliament Mr Drum, Nationals MP for Northern Victoria, asked the Treasurer Tim Pallas to explain what had happened to:
- $9.8 million yet to be spent in the Shooting Sports Facilities Program;
- Funding for the Country Football Netball Program; and
- $18 million which had been ear-marked for two major Bendigo sport projects, the Kangaroo Flat Aquatic Centre and the Bendigo Tennis Centre.
Mr Drum told Parliament that Labor Sport Minister John Eren had been embarrassed at a recent budget review meeting by not being able to show where the funds had been included in this year’s Budget.
“It will be welcome news to many sporting clubs that the Andrews Labor Government has now backflipped and decided to continue the Country Football Netball Program and the Shooting Sports Facilities Program after I raised these issues publicly,” Mr Drum said.
“These are important programs that support local sporting clubs and encourage greater participation in sport across the state.
“But I am still concerned about the long-term future of the programs, with the government refusing to say how long they will continue or where the money is coming from.”
The Andrews Labor Government has today shown how little it cares about country sport.
Sport Minister John Eren today told the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee that the government had provided $2 million in the 2015/16 State Budget to continue the Country Football and Netball Program.
Yet when asked where that funding was written in the State Budget, he was unable to point to any reference to the program on any page. It is not listed in the budget.
The Country Football Netball Program has provided support for local clubs to upgrade their facilities and therefore involve more people in sport. It funded more than 110 projects during the past four years.
The Coalition made an election commitment to provide another $8 million to continue the program for four more years, and ensure local clubs have better and safer facilities and equipment.
Labor failed to make any commitment.
Comments from Shadow Sport Minister Damian Drum:
“If the Andrews Labor Government values the Country Football Netball Program then they should fund it. Sports programs can’t run with imaginary funding.
“The fact that the government doesn’t even know what it has provided to country football and netball in the budget shows just how little it cares about regional Victorians.”
Despite all his claims to “save” TAFEs and reopen campuses, Daniel Andrews doesn’t plan to attract a single additional student next year.
Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan said the 2015/16 State Budget estimated 443,687 students would be enrolled in government subsidised training next year (Budget Paper 3 p187) – the same number of students recorded in 2014.
Two months ago when releasing the 2014 Victorian Training Report, Minister Steve Herbert claimed that figure represented ‘a failure of our training system at exactly the time when our economy and people needed it the most’.
But yesterday in Question Time, he claimed ‘while numbers are one thing, training and quality are another’.
The Budget also reveals that Labor intends to cut almost 80,000 government subsidised places for young people – from 40 per cent last year down to 22.5 per cent in 2015/16 (BP3 p187).
Comments from Steph Ryan:
“Labor cares more about a political headline than delivering real outcomes for Victorian students,” Ms Ryan said.
“The former Labor government opened up the training market and forced TAFEs to compete with private providers, providing them no assistance to manage the transition.
“The Andrews Labor Government says it will spend $320 million ‘saving’ TAFEs but the government is not planning to enrol a single extra student next year.
“It is absolutely clear from its first State Budget that this government is about politics, not people.”