Community Services Media releases Health and Aged Care

Country hospitals hit by rising power bills

Wednesday 23 August 2017

The Andrews Labor Government has refused to commit to providing more funding to country hospitals facing skyrocketing power bills.

In Parliament on Wednesday, Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio would not guarantee additional energy costs at country hospitals – expected to be worth about $2 million in western Victoria alone – would be covered.

Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh condemned the Minister for abandoning country hospitals, just months after the Andrews Government failed to stop the closure of Hazelwood Power Station and the loss of 22 per cent of the state’s baseload power.

“Regional hospitals deliver a vital service to our country communities, but the Andrews Labor Government has turned its back on us,” Mr Walsh said.

“Daniel Andrews was wrong when he said power bills would only go up about four per cent after he let Hazelwood close without a back-up plan to replace the lost power supply.

“Rising energy bills add more strain to country hospital budgets that are already stretched thin and it is up to Daniel Andrews to increase funding and make sure regional health services aren’t cut as a result.”

In her question to the Minister, Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said Wimmera Health Care Group in Horsham expected power bills to rise by more than $500,000 this financial year, while Hamilton’s Western District Health Service has been notified by Health Purchasing Victoria that its electricity costs would increase by more than $360,000 this year.

“Country hospitals in western Victoria have told me they expect power bills to go up about 80 per cent – about $2 million more than previous years,” Ms Kealy said.

“Regional hospitals can’t rely on hospital auxiliary cake stalls to help cover soaring energy costs.

“The Andrews Labor Government must urgently commit to funding the significant increase in energy costs in full.”

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Liberal-Nationals announce record funding boost for palliative care

Monday 21 August 2017

Murray Plains residents will have access to world-class palliative care under a Liberal-Nationals government, Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh has said.

Mr Walsh said an elected Liberal-Nationals government would provide $140 million – the largest investment of its kind in Australia – to ensure terminally ill patients and their families can get the support they need as they approach the end of their lives.

“The majority of Victorians want to live their final days at home surrounded by family and friends,” Mr Walsh said.

“Research shows around 70 per cent of us would prefer that, but barely a third of Victorians get to realise that wish because there is inadequate funding for community-based palliative care.”

In 2015/16, funding for community palliative care provided support for 16,777 Victorians. 

The Liberal Nationals’ $140 million commitment will help provide palliative care support for up to another 8000 Victorians.

“With an ageing population and increasing rates of complex chronic illness, demand for palliative care will continue to grow,” Mr Walsh said.

“Only a Liberal-Nationals government will make the necessary investment to deliver timely and comprehensive community palliative care for those who want it.”

The Liberal Nationals’ package will include*:

  • Doubling specialist palliative care medical and nursing services to community palliative care clients, especially in rural and regional Victoria.
  • A 50 per cent increase in funding for community palliative care provided in the home, including overnight care, in-home respite and carer support, and enhanced links to after-hours support such as GPs and pharmacists.
  • Significant education and workforce development to recruit and train skilled palliative care workers to deliver expanded services, enhance health professionals’ capacity to have end-of-life conversations, and support volunteers.
  • A community awareness and engagement campaign to assist Victorians to understand the availability and benefits of palliative care, including under-represented groups such as rural and regional Victorians, children, non-cancer related illnesses, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and indigenous Victorians.
  • Establishing of an End-of-Life Ministerial Council, with representation from palliative care and broader health sectors as well as patients and carers, to ensure palliative care is integrated with broader health services and flexibly and effectively meeting the needs of terminally ill Victorians and their families.

*Based on 2016/17 funding for Community Palliative Care Services and Consultancy Services

Community Services Media releases Health and Aged Care

Heroin-related deaths on the rise in Victoria

Monday 31 July 2017

Background

Reports today show Victoria’s drug crisis is continuing to worsen, with heroin-related deaths expected to surpass the road toll within two or three years if current trends continue.

Figures from the Coroners Court show 190 people died from heroin-related overdoses in Victoria in 2016, up 71 per cent since 2012.

A recent report from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission found drug manufacture in Victoria was rising. One in four clandestine laboratories detected in Australia in 2015-16 was in Victoria, up 10 per cent since Daniel Andrews came to office.

The report also showed Victoria recorded among the highest drug usage rates in the country.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy

Reports of the rising toll of insidious drugs like ice and heroin is more evidence of Victoria’s growing crime and drugs crisis.

Drug dealers prey on the most vulnerable people in our community but the Andrews Labor Government refuses to take the action needed to toughen sentences for traffickers.  Anyone who deals or trafficks hard drugs should be locked up for a very long time.

Under Daniel Andrews we are seeing drug-related crime spiral out of control, drug use skyrocket, but drug rehabilitation wait lists have blown out to over a year.

Only the Liberal Nationals have a plan to tackle the drug epidemic through targeted education, better access to drug treatment and bringing down the drug kingpins that prey on some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

Community Services Media releases Health and Aged Care

Drug crime rising under Labor

Friday 9 June 2017

Daniel Andrews’ Ice Action plan is a $184 million dud.  Lots of money is being spent but it’s not making a dent in the numbers of people and their families that are being destroyed by this insidious drug.

It’s not just the lives that are being ruined, it’s the side effects like violent crime and aggravated burglaries which is impacting on tens of thousands of Victorians. 

Despite these problems we still have members of the Andrews Labor Government arguing for drug injecting rooms in our suburbs.

We need to provide better help for those who want to beat their addiction. 

At the moment those wanting to beat their addictions face waits of up to a year for rehabilitation support because Daniel Andrews is spending the money from the Ice Action Plan on glossy brochures and bureaucratic talkfests.      

The Liberal Nationals believe that we need tougher sentences for drug traffickers, a more effective rehabilitation system and better awareness campaigns for young people and the community.

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Taxes up 20%, but no guarantee of a return

Wednesday 31 May 2017

Taxes up 20%, but no guarantee of a return

Housing Minister Martin Foley has failed to answer basic questions on his portfolio at a Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) appearance today.

Asked about the Andrews Labor Government’s new Vacant Residential Property Tax, the Minister bumbled through a response that revealed a staggering lack of understanding on what this new tax will mean for Victorians.

The Minister has been happy to tout the benefits of this new tax for homelessness and housing affordability, but he can’t say if this new tax will actually do what Labor promised and add properties to the rental market.

It’s clear the Andrews Labor Government expects Victorians to pay more in tax without any guarantee they’ll get a return.

Mr Foley was also unable to answer any basic questions on the transfer of 4000 public housing residences to community housing.

The Minister couldn’t say how the Government planned to consult with affected tenants or guarantee community housing associations wouldn’t be handed poor quality housing stock they’ll soon have to pay to be repaired.

Either the Minister isn’t across the detail of his own portfolio or the detail doesn’t exist.

Community Services Media releases Health and Aged Care

Taxes up 20% but cuts to mental health

Tuesday 2 May 2017 

Daniel Andrews has announced ten new taxes in two years but has effectively cut the number of residential mental health beds. 

The Government's own budget papers show that Daniel Andrews is failing Victorians struggling with mental illness by cutting the number of mental health beds.

Buried away on page 244 of Budget Paper number 3 is the disclosure that the government fell around 16,000 short on residential bed days this year and have wound back their target next year by a further 12,000 bed days.

Daniel Andrews likes to brag about his doctored Code 1 ambulance figures, but his own budget papers show that Victorians in the midst of a mental health crisis are being let down.

The Andrews Government has failed to meet its target of 75 per cent of emergency patients being admitted to a mental health bed within eight hours - falling a whopping 15 per cent short.

Daniel Andrews is not only the highest taxing Premier in Victoria’s history, he’s the highest taxing Premier in Australia.  Despite being the highest taxing state, with a $10 billion windfall from the Port of Melbourne lease, this budget fails to deliver for on the ground mental health support for people in crisis. 

Community Services Media releases Health and Aged Care

Regional communities miss out on ice prevention funding

The Andrews Labor Government has failed to support more than 25 community-based groups to establish ice prevention programs in their local area.

Established education and prevention strategies in rural and regional Victoria have also missed out in the latest round of the Community Ice Action Grants.

“The ice scourge is hurting families and country communities and there are dozens of groups ready to make a real difference but have been passed over by Labor,” Shadow Minister for Mental Health Tim Bull said.

“If this Government was serious about tackling the damaging impacts of ice they would fund all of these programs and continue support to those with successful programs already in place.

“After the windfall $9.7 billion sale of the Port of Melbourne lease there is no excuse to refuse funds to those trying to make a positive difference in their community.”

About 40 applications were submitted from groups across the state, 12 received funding.

Under Labor the 13 groups funded last year, including Mildura’s Project Ice and other programs in Rochester, Warrnambool and Wangaratta, will not receive ongoing funding.

“The reality is Labor talks a big game with its Ice Action Plan, but when groups put their hand up to work with Government at the community level they are being ignored,” Mr Bull said.

“Given Labor is beating its chest about a massive budget surplus and the windfall $9.7 billion Port of Melbourne lease, there is no excuse to continue to neglect our country communities.”

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Labor’s botched NDIS rollout

More than 1000 Victorians have been locked out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) under Daniel Andrews’ botched implementation, Shadow Minister for Disability Tim Bull said.

Reports today show the Andrews Labor Government has failed to meet a deadline to pass on information to meet a target to assess the eligibility of 6110 Victorians for the NDIS.

It means more than 1000 people with a disability will miss out on vital financial support this year.

“More than 1000 Victorians with a disability are being locked out of the NDIS under Daniel Andrews’ botched implementation of the scheme in Victoria,” Mr Bull said.

“Daniel Andrews says he is committed to getting the rollout on track, but has failed to meet the most basic requirements of the NDIS rollout.”

All state and territory governments agreed to provide data on existing clients six-months before they can be transitioned to the NDIS.

Victoria is the only state to have failed to meet these deadlines and those who missed out must now wait until next year to have their eligibility assessed.

“The scheme is vital to the wellbeing and quality of life of thousands of Victorians across the state, but Daniel Andrews has shown even the state’s most in need must take a number and join the line,” Mr Bull said.

“Rather than fighting for a union takeover of the CFA, Daniel Andrews should be fighting for support for our state’s most vulnerable.”

Community Services Media releases Health and Aged Care

Dan’s got no plan for public housing

Demand for public housing is growing, but a lack of direction from the Andrews Labor Government is putting more stress on vulnerable Victorians, according to Shadow Minister for Housing Tim Bull.

Infrastructure Victoria found demand for affordable housing is outstripping the relative supply, with thousands of homes in the existing public housing stock in disrepair (Source: Infrastructure Victoria Draft 30-year Strategy, p90).

The Draft 30-year Infrastructure Strategy, released on Tuesday, identified a clear need to provide better access to housing, now and in coming decades.

“Daniel Andrews has no plan to relieve the intense stress on our state’s public housing assets, while tens of thousands of vulnerable Victorians are reduced to a number on extensive wait lists,” Mr Bull said.

“Simply building more homes isn’t the complete answer either. Daniel Andrews also continues to fail to address the underlying issues that have contributed to this crisis, like spiralling unemployment in a number of rural areas."

There were 32,250 applicants on the public housing wait list at June 2016, more than 8000 are in regional Victoria.

Labor’s own hand-picked infrastructure advisers identified a lack of leadership in social housing.

“This is no surprise, given Labor failed to allocate any significant funds for public housing in this year’s State Budget,” Mr Bull said.

“Under the previous Coalition government the public housing list decreased by more than 6000 applicants. Daniel Andrews has relegated this issue to the too-hard basket for too long.

“We already know our state is facing an affordable housing crisis.

“Our most vulnerable shouldn’t be forced to wait for a report to confirm this to get a roof over their heads.”

Community Services Media releases Health and Aged Care

Bannockburn Concerned By Ambulance Wait

Bannockburn residents are concerned that someone will suffer dearly from ambulance delays, according to The Nationals candidate for Polwarth, David O’Brien.

Mr O’Brien recently doorknocked Bannockburn with The Nationals Leader, Peter Walsh, and said that a number of residents raised concerns about the delays in ambulance response times.

“One particular resident was a young mother, particularly concerned for the health and safety of children who may through incident, accident or illness required the service of an ambulance,” said Mr O’Brien.

“Some of the elderly folk we spoke with shared the concern. It is worrying to elderly people that the emergency services they rely on might not be there for them.

I call upon Jill Hennessey, Labor’s Minister for Health, to address the long delays as a matter of urgency,” said Mr O’Brien.

“The Minister should get down here herself and talk to the people of Bannockburn about their concerns with ambulance delays,” said Mr O’Brien.

The Labor Party has chosen not to field a candidate in the October 31, By-election for former Liberal Transport Minister Terry Mulder’s seat of Polwarth.