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Neoh welcomes Coalition’s $100 million hospital pledge

The Nationals Candidate for South West Coast Michael Neoh has welcomed today's pledge from the Liberal-National Coalition to invest $100 million for Stage 2 of the Warrnambool Base Hospital upgrade.

"Our hospital is a critical piece of infrastructure, and everyone who lives in this community understands we need Stage 2 of the upgrade project to keep up with growing service demands,” Mr Neoh said.

"The Andrew's Government has been in charge for nearly a year now but the Health Minister has focused on Melbourne issues and ignored the needs of  Warrnambool.

"Now the people of South West Coast have an iron-clad guarantee that the next Liberal-National Coalition government will deliver the hospital that our region deserves."

 

Community Services Media releases Health and Aged Care

Mental Health Week – Get involved

Victoria’s Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Tim Bull, is calling on all Victorians to get involved in Mental Health Week which finishes on World Mental Health Day, Saturday October 10th.

Mr Bull said Mental Health Week is a great opportunity to educate and raise awareness among all Victorians about the effects of mental health on our society.

“With one if five people experiencing a mental health disorder it is very likely that you or someone you know will be affected during your lifetime.

“Mental Health Week is about helping to remove the stigma associated with mental health disorders so it can be treated like any other illness such as diabetes.  

“I would encourage all Victorians to visit the mental health week website and get involved in one of the many events that are running right around the state,” Mr Bull said.

For more information about Mental Health Week and how you can get involved visit: http://mentalhealthvic.org.au/


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Labor must provide certainly for people with disabilities

Disability Minister Martin Foley must make it clear today how people living with disabilities will be compensated for the additional costs of care on AFL parade day.

At the eleventh hour last Friday, Martin Foley promised that Individual Support Packages (ISPs) would be topped up to meet the cost of care, which will increase due to penalty rates.

But this week one person with an ISP, Rachel Croucher, was told to submit an “application for non-recurrent funding”, a process which can take months, because the Department of Health and Human Services had not given any directive to care providers that there would be top-up funding. It has been a similar story for other people.

“My care agency know nothing about additional funding, no one else with an ISP I know is aware of anything, basically no one has heard of anything about additional funding,” Rachel said.

“This is affecting thousands of people who require disability support and in-home care.”

Shadow Minister for Disability Tim Bull said it was unacceptable that the Andrews Labor Government may wait until after the public holiday and then ask individuals to submit an application for the extra costs.

“This means those who are facing uncertainty and anxiety are being left to organise family to assist or are cutting back on care – all due to the uncertainty created by this government,” Mr Bull said.

“It is just not good enough.

“The government needs to commit to the full amount of the increased costs for support workers and put this money straight into ISPs, so there is no change to support for people with disabilities tomorrow.”

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Labor backflips on AFL parade holiday care

Victorians with disabilities and their families will receive funding to cover the cost of the AFL parade holiday, thanks to pressure from the Liberal-Nationals Coalition.

People with disabilities and their families were going to have to pay up to hundreds of extra dollars for carers on AFL parade day, because their Individual Support Packages did not include money for the penalty rates.

In some cases people with disabilities were planning to cancel part or all of their care on AFL parade day to lower the cost, leaving them bed-ridden or their families taking on the carer role for the day.

Shadow Minister for Disability Tim Bull said the Andrews Labor Government last night gave in to pressure from the Coalition, disability sector and Herald Sun, and would now make funding available.

“It’s disappointing the Andrews Labor Government has only provided this support under pressure at the 11th hour, but I’m pleased common sense has prevailed,” Mr Bull said.

“In Daniel Andrews’ rush to introduce this parade holiday he forgot all about those in the disability and aged care sectors, who are some of the most vulnerable in our community.

“I’m sure people with disabilities and their families will breathe a sigh of relief today, and now the government needs to show the same support to the aged care sector, which is facing a similar situation of increased costs because of AFL parade day.”

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Bath calls on Labor to provide funds for Gippsland Carers Association

Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath is calling on the Labor Government to fund an administration officer for the Gippsland Carers Association so it can continue its valuable work.

Speaking in parliament recently Ms Bath said the Coalition had provided $25,000 a year over four years for a part-time administration officer for the association however the funding ran out at the end of last financial year and the Labor government has not renewed it.

“This funding paid for an administration officer to work 19 hours a week, which allowed the association’s carer mentor to be out on the road helping our carers,” Ms Bath said.

“Without an administration officer the carer mentor needs to divide her time between being out in the community where she is needed and being back in the office doing administration.”

Ms Bath said the carer mentor helped looked after the carer in their own home and offered a range of support to them.

“This results in huge savings for the government because it reduces the amount of time that people needing care spend in nursing homes and respite centres, as well as reducing the drain on the public hospital system,” she told the parliament.

“Without the funds to support the administration officer the Gippsland Carers Association is left facing a difficult decision: either to cut back on direct face-to-face support for carers or to cut back on other initiatives to help fund the part-time administration officer.”

Gippsland Carers Association president Jean Tops said the funding was critical to the volunteer committee of management’s ability to open its centre three days a week and provide necessary support for unpaid carers across Gippsland.

“Without an administration support officer we will be forced to reduce our opening hours to just two days a week and that means carers across Gippsland will miss out on vital support,” Ms Tops said.

Ms Bath said she hoped the Labor Government would value the work of the Gippsland Carers Association and provide the funding needed for an administration officer.

She said often the work provided by carers went unnoticed and it was important Gippsland carer’s contributions were recognised.

“The perfect opportunity to recognise these wonderful people is by nominating a local carer for the National Carer Awards,” Ms Bath said.

Now in its second year the National Carer Awards is a partnership between Carers Australia and Life Without Barriers and celebrates the unpaid carers and foster/kinship carers.

“These awards are a fantastic opportunity to recognise community members in Gippsland for the outstanding contribution they provide to the people they support,” Ms Bath said.

Ms Bath said there were many carers in Gippsland doing extraordinary work which was often not recognised.

“Unpaid family carers provide a significant and irreplaceable contribution to the welfare and well-being of their family members, children and adults with dependent disabilities,” she said.

Nominations are open now under four categories: Young Carer (aged 26 and under); Foster and Kinship Carer; Family Carers (general unpaid carer of a family member or friend); Caring in the Country (unpaid carer located within rural and remote locations).

Nominations close on Sunday 6 September. To nominate a carer visit www.carerawards.com.au

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Grand final holiday to hit aged care sector

The Andrews Labor Government must explain to the aged care sector how it will help providers cope with the cost of the new AFL grand final public holiday.

Shadow Minister for Senior Victorians Tim Bull said aged care providers were facing a massive wages bill for that day, but the government was offering no help.

A Regulatory Impact Statement into the new grand final holiday, and the new Easter Sunday holiday, put the economic cost to Victoria at up to $898 million each year and wage payments of up to $286 million each year.

“It is time the government how it explained how it is going to remove the impact on a sector that cares for some of the most vulnerable in our community,” Mr Bull said

“Leading Age Services Australia has expressed major concerns over the severe cost impost the new holiday will place on aged care providers.

“In comparison with other states, Victoria how has more public holidays than New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT.

“This was a populist commitment with it appears no real thought given to how it will impact on a range of industries.”

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Bath backs call to attract more country doctors to East Gippsland

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.

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Coalition establishes Autism Spectrum Disorder Inquiry

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.”

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Drum demands detail on sport funds

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.”

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Labor drops the ball on country sport: Drum

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.”