Mallacoota guaranteed holiday primary health coverage, but clarification needed
Health Minister, Jill Hennessy, has provided a commitment to State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, that there will be a “continuity of primary health services to the remote community and visitors to Mallacoota over the upcoming holiday period”.
The Minister was responding after Mr Bull raised in State Parliament the community’s concerns over the ongoing viability of the current doctor practice and subsequent GP coverage in the town over the upcoming holiday period, when the population swells to more than 5,000.
“The response stated the Primary Healthcare Network (PHN) had given an undertaking to ensure services existed over the holiday period. It was a little short on detail in relation to how this will be guaranteed and there is some ambiguity I need to clarify,” Mr Bull said.
“While I am pleased the Minister has provided a commitment to “ensure the continuity of primary health services”, it was a little confusing that this comment was followed with a statement that negotiations were continuing “to consider a way to support the Mallacoota community over the busy summer months”.
“I do appreciate the Minister’s personal interest in this matter, but will be seeking some clarification on this when Parliament resumes next week,” he said.
In addition, Mr Hennessy advised Mr Bull:
• The Gippsland PHN has supported a business review of the practice which identified a number of issues affecting the viability of the service, including the availability of general practice workforce and the current business model of the practice.
• The PHN and the Department are leading negotiations with the local health services, Mallacoota District Health and Support Services and Orbost Regional Health, to consider a way to support the community over the busy summer months while the PHN responds to the longer-term viability issues.
• The Department will continue to monitor and report the progress of these negotiations.
Grants to restore war memorials
Veteran organisations, councils and community groups can apply for grants to assist with restoration work required on war memorials.
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said grants of up to $20,000 to renew or repair local commemorative sites and honour rolls were available through round two of the Restoring Community War Memorials Grants program.
“There are many local war memorials commemorating the courage, spirit and sacrifice of local servicemen and women. These memorials provide an important place for veterans, their families and friends, as well as the wider community, to gather as a sign of our enduring respect for the sacrifice made by so many,” he said.
“They also provide an opportunity for our younger generations to learn about, and appreciate the legacy of our war veterans and ensure their stories of courage and mateship are never forgotten.
“Unfortunately, over time these memorials suffer from the elements and this grant program is designed to assist communities to reinstate them to their original condition.
“Eligible projects for the program could include repairs to broken statues, barriers, fences, foundations or other parts of memorials and restoration to honour rolls,” he said.
Applications for the Restoring Community War Memorials Grants close on February 14, 2017.
For further information or to apply, visit dpc.vic.gov.au/index.php/veterans/veterans-grants
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Apply now for history grants
Community groups are able to apply for a share in $350,000 in funding for projects that preserve and share stories from the past, according to Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.
Mr Bull said this latest round of grants of up to $15,000 is available through the Public Record Office’s Local History Grants Program for projects that preserve and share stories of the region.
“These grants provide greater accessibility to Victoria’s history and aim to support a range of projects that share our history in innovative and engaging ways,” he said.
Projects that have been supported in the past through the Local History grants include the digitisation and preservation of newspapers, virtual exhibitions and websites, filmmaking and playwriting, historical walks and restoration of historical costumes.
“East Gippsland has a rich and diverse history and there are many important stories to share and preserve,” Mr Bull said.
“The Local History Grants Program is open to all not-for-profit community groups and I encourage historical societies, schools, sporting clubs and special interest groups to visit the Public Record Office website to find out more about the program and how it can support them to tell their story,” he said.
Applications for the Local History Grants Program are now open, closing at 5pm on January 31, 2017.
For further information or to apply visit http://prov.vic.gov.au/community-programs/grants-awards/local-history-grants
Friday, November 25, 2016
Rising crime, fewer police in rural Victoria
The issue of rising crime rates in areas of rural and regional Victoria and less police to enforce the law is a concern to country communities.
This is the view of Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, who spoke on the matter in State Parliament this week.
“What is concerning is we have police statistics that show the number of full-time equivalent sworn officers in rural and regional Victoria fell by over 80 between November 2014 and June 2016. In 2014 it was 9841 and by June it was 9759,” he said.
“This reduction has occurred while we have seen crime rates spiral, in Wellington Shire it has increased by 18% and in East Gippsland by 10%.
“In fact 72 of Victoria’s local government areas recorded an increase in crime rates, some as high as 40%.
“If we had made a concerted effort to increase police numbers in that time it would be hard to be critical, but we’ve seen a drop in many areas and only very minor increases in some, but the reality is we have seen an overall reduction, which is not good enough when crime rates are rising.
“Despite raising this time and time again in Parliament, the Government has only just committed to increasing police numbers of any significance in this state and hopefully that will result in the police we have lost in rural regions being replaced,” Mr Bull said.
HOLIDAY POLICE RESOURCING NEEDED
“The other matter I have continually raised is the need for additional policing from outside the region to assist our local officers in peak holiday times, as used to occur.
“The reason I stress ‘from outside the region’ is because there is no use sending officers from Bairnsdale to Lakes Entrance and Mallacoota as Bairnsdale has its own influx and has to cover locations like Paynesville and Eagle Point as well.
“We need more officers from outside East Gippsland when we have situations like in Lakes Entrance where the population rises from 6500 to around 60,000 and Mallacoota rises from 1000 to 5000. Regular police rosters cannot cope with this without assistance,” Mr Bull said.
Thursday, November 24, 2016
New wild dog committee lacks farmer input
The make-up of the Government’s new Wild Dog Management Advisory Committee has only half the representation from landholders the former committee had, according to State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
“I have been contacted by farmers asking why the old advisory committee was scrapped and is to be replaced with a group that has less farmer representation,” he said.
“The structure of having three landholders only, with three non-landholders, is not anything like the previous Wild Dog Advisory Committee, which had six farmers (including three from East Gippsland) and a Victorian Farmers’ Federation (VFF) representative.
“The reason you need a good spread of landholders from all areas is you must have that grassroots input from each region, including those communities in East Gippsland and north-east Victoria.
“The other topic that has been questioned is that the new committee was to have an independent chair, but we have Labor Upper House MP, Harriet Shing, appointed to that role.
“With the greatest of respect to Harriet, I think she would have at best a limited knowledge or history of the wild dog problem and it has been put to me by several people that the chair, at the very least, should have a strong understanding of the problem historically,” Mr Bull said.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Bull also supported calls by members of the former committee for the government to release the two reports it commissioned into the Wild Dog Management Program and the previous Wild Dog Advisory Committee.
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Seafood Festival would be a huge boon for Lakes Entrance business community
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has this week in Parliament thrown his support behind a Seafood Festival being established in Lakes Entrance.
“Lakes Entrance is home to easily the biggest port in this state, in relation to both seafood throughput and fishing fleet size. It is also one of the biggest in Australia,” Mr Bull said.
“Such a festival has the opportunity to bring enormous economic benefits to the town, as there is no doubt Victorians have a great affection for fresh local seafood.
“Given the port handles over 80 different species of fish and we have crayfish, prawn and abalone industries just to name a few, it has the potential to attract people from far and wide.
“Port Stephens last year held a very successful seafood related festival where it showcased its local product and had preparations by celebrity chefs and a range of supportive events and I encourage all levels of government to get behind this idea.
“If anything, given the size of the Lakes Entrance industry, it certainly has the potential to do it much bigger and better.
“Events like this will not only attract people to the area for the first time, but it results in increased visitation.
“There is no doubt it has the potential to develop into something very big for our entire region.
“I understand community groups are being sounded out as possible partners in such an event and wanted to use my time in Parliament to put my support for its development on the record,” Mr Bull said.
Caption: A Seafood Festival held in Lakes Entrance would bring enormous economic benefits to town, according to Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016