Labor’s health cuts to leave more gaps in rural services
Grassroots programs that support healthier communities across the Gippsland East electorate are at risk of being axed under an Andrews Labor Government plan to cut funding to Primary Care Partnerships (PCPs).
Funding for PCPs will end on July 1, with the Minister for Health refusing to guarantee Labor will allocate long-term funding when asked by The Nationals in State Parliament recently.
The Minister ominously described PCPs as being in a “process of change and transition”.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said local PCPs played a crucial role in our community.
“PCPs are the quiet champions coordinating better access to health care and services in our local communities,” Mr Bull said.
“Many people have probably never heard of them, but have likely benefitted from their vital work.
“If the Andrews Labor Government goes ahead with its plan to axe them, it will leave a massive health service gap in rural communities that already struggle with access to health care.”
PCPs were also forced to fight for survival in 2019, but after a campaign strongly supported by The Nationals, they secured a funding extension.
Strengthening initiatives for the prevention of family violence and elder abuse, protection of the mental well - being of shift workers, overcoming the disparity in health outcomes for Aboriginal people and reducing the harm from alcohol and drug use are just some of the programs they facilitate or support.
“PCPs pull together a disparate group of local health providers to build healthier communities,” Mr Bull said.
“Even former Health Minister Daniel Andrews said Primary Care Partnerships do “significant work to help people with chronic illnesses”, but his Labor Government is now threatening to axe them.
“Ending this funding threatens to destroy two decades of work to build trust in the community and strong local networks.”
Victoria’s 28 PCPs link in with approximately 600 organisations, including hospitals, community health services, Primary Health Networks, councils, local Indigenous communities, mental health services, drug treatment services and disability services.
The electorate of Gippsland East is wholly covered by the East Gippsland PCP and in part by the Wellington PCP.
Wednesday, 31 March 2021
East Gippsland overlooked for mental health initiative
East Gippsland has been overlooked by the Andrews State Government as a location for one of the six priority sites for the Adult and Older Adult Mental Health and Wellbeing Services that are being rolled out from this week.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said with all the region had endured in the past few years and a tragically high suicide rate, it should have been a priority site.
The services were a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health Services.
“I will be interested to see the rationale behind the decision making, but I would have thought that under most measures, East Gippsland would qualify for the top six.
“While it is important the government acts quickly to implement the recommendations from the Royal Commission, the decision to only commit to six services being open in the next two years means some of the most vulnerable communities, like ours, face an even longer wait to get the services needed,” he said.
The six locations that have been identified are Benalla, Brimbank, Frankston, Greater Geelong, Latrobe Valley and Whittlesea.
“We have lost far too many people to suicide in our community and some of the most isolated communities in the state are in East Gippsland, which presents challenges to access services.
“On top of this, the government plans to introduce a mental health tax for all Victorians, regardless of whether adequate services are available in their area. This means our community will be forced to pay a tax for services they can’t access.
“I know the abovementioned communities are also in need, but in the prevailing circumstances of our geographical location, what we have endured of recent years and the suicide rate, we should be getting some priority attention,” said Mr Bull.
Anyone needing support can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
Victorian local government areas with the highest rates of suicide, 2014 to 2018
Local government area Average annual rate per 100,000 people
Benalla (RC) 29.1
Indigo (S) 24.2
Buloke (S) 22.5
Hindmarsh (S) 20.0
Corangamite (S) 18.2
East Gippsland (S) 17.5
Yarriambiack (S) 17.2
Northern Grampians (S) 17.1
Mount Alexander (S) 17.0
Warrnambool (C) 16.8
Source: Parliament of Victoria Library
Emergency Service groups receive funding
Lakes Entrance Surf Life Saving Club and Johnsonville and Mossi-Tambo fire brigades have been successful in the latest round of the Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program (VESEP) grant stream.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said following last summer’s fires and other challenges that the region has endured in recent years, it was important local emergency services agencies were supported.
“East Gippsland is a great place to live, work and raise a family, but we have our fair share of challenges and our volunteer agencies are always at the forefront of that response, so it is imperative they receive our support,” he said.
Local recipients are:
• Tambo Valley SES $64,000 towards a new Toyota Hilux
• Sarsfield CFA $130,800 towards a big fill vehicle
• Swift’s Creek CFA $120,800 towards an ultra-light tanker
• Bendoc SES, $63,000 towards a new Toyota Hilux
• Cann River SES $64,300 towards a new Toyota Hilux
• Mallacoota SES $31,700 towards a generator trailer and electrical upgrade
• Mallacoota Surf Life Saving Club $20,500 for two new outboards, equipment and trailer
• Mallacoota Coast Guard $48,000 towards a new 4x4 quad cab and $7,300 for operational equipment
• Lakes Entrance Surf Life Saving Club $38,000 towards a Toyota Hilux
• Johnsonville Fire Brigade $53,300 for internal works
• Mossi-Tambo Fire Brigade $66,500 for extension works
• Stratford CFA $38,000 towards a field command vehicle
• Stratford SES $62,000 towards a new Ford Ranger
“The VESEP annual grants program gives volunteer emergency service groups the opportunity to apply for grants of up to $150,000 to purchase equipment including vehicles, trucks, tankers, watercraft and trailers, and for minor improvements including refurbishments and amenities, such as kitchens and change rooms,” said Mr Bull.
“The Government matches every $1 paid by volunteer groups with a $2 co-contribution.”
Thursday, March 25 2021
ANZAC Day confusion continues for RSL Sub-Branches
Today's announcement of larger crowd limits at Melbourne's ANZAC Day march has failed to resolve confusion for smaller Sub-Branches that is forcing clubs to cancel or scale back commemorations.
While clear directions have been provided for Melbourne's march to go ahead, suburban and regional clubs still have no clarification on the COVID-safe rules police will be enforcing on April 25.
Despite the Andrews Government having plenty of time to prepare clear guidelines ahead of annual ANZAC Day services, local Sub-Branches have instead been left to interpret the Government’s confusing mess of COVID restrictions.
Shadow Minister for Veterans Tim Bull said suburban marches in Mt Evelyn, Dandenong, Cranbourne, Frankston and Rosebud were cancelled last week due to lack of certainty, while others were awaiting permits and many more simply wanted clear direction.
"The Veterans Minister is encouraging Victorians to attend local services, but it’s Labor’s own lack of detailed directives that has seen marches cancelled and is putting others at risk of not going ahead,” Mr Bull said.
“Sub-Branches are acutely aware of the need to run COVID-safe events to ensure our veterans can safely attend marches and services at their local cenotaph.
“What we need here is for the Government to be proactive. It should have been in touch with the State’s RSL Sub-Branches months ago and continued a high level of communication. Many are confused by the permit system and need clear direction and support.
Local clubs have received no direction on details like:
• Whether those who line a street for a march are included with the figure that gathers nearby at the cenotaph for the service. Is it one crowd, or two, as many attend people may one and not the other?
• What if a club anticipates 800, but 1200 show up – do they send them away, or should it be attendance by registration to ensure the 1000 limit is not exceeded?
• What is the process to inform Sub-Branches if they require permits and, if so, what support is available to obtain administrative approvals?
“It’s not good enough for the Andrews Labor Government to assume Sub-Branches will just fill in the blanks – many have already made the decision to cancel because the Government’s COVID rules are still a confusing mess,” Mr Bull said.
“Veterans Minister Shaun Leane needs to put out a clear directive to all Sub-Branches with a hotline for those that need additional information or assistance.
“With barely a month until ANZAC Day, clear guidelines must urgently be published to ensure local events will go ahead.
“All Victorians must have the opportunity to safely come together to honour the men and women who have given their lives in service of our nation and those who continue to serve today.”
Wednesday March 24 2021
Disability awards closing soon
The 2021 Victorian Disability Awards are currently open and East Gippslanders are being encouraged to nominate outstanding individuals and groups who have increased the rights and participation of people with a disability.
Member for Gippsland East and Shadow Minister for Disability, Tim Bull, said the awards celebrate and acknowledge those people who have a passion and vision for the advancement of people with a disability to achieve their life goals, through upholding their rights and choices in a way that promotes inclusion.
“It is important that we recognise this essential network of people and organisations who on a daily basis are supporting people with a disability and their carers,” Mr Bull said.
“These awards recognise the efforts of those individuals, teams, organisations and businesses for the significant contribution they are making to enriching the lives of people with a disability.
Mr Bull said he has great admiration for the commitment of disability support workers, volunteers and businesses in helping ensure people with a disability in East Gippsland can achieve their goals and participate within the community.
“These awards provide a unique opportunity for this commitment and valuable community contribution to be acknowledged and honoured.”
Members of the public can make a nomination in seven different categories including:
Emerging Leader; Excellence in Creating Inclusive Communities; Excellence in Employment Outcomes; Excellence in Promoting Health; Housing and Wellbeing; Excellence in Promoting Rights, Fairness and Safety; Volunteer and the Lifetime Achievement award.
Nominations close 4 April, 2021 and award winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in July.
For guidelines and nomination forms visit dhhs.vic.gov.au/disabilityawards
Caption: Gippsland Nationals MP Tim Bull at Bullock Island where a partnership between the East Gippsland Specialist School, Gippsland Ports, DELWP and East Gippsland Shire resulted in the construction of new picnic tables.
Landholders’ voices must be heard on riverside camping rules
Consultation has opened on sweeping changes introduced by the Andrews Labor Government that will allow people to camp on river frontages held under a grazing licence.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said it was imperative that landholders had their say on the new regulations, which are set to take effect on September 1.
“The Nationals did not support this legislation as the government could not answer the specifics on the prospect of biosecurity breaches, rubbish dumping, effluent disposal, antisocial behaviour, asset destruction and concerns around privacy and insurance,” Mr Bull said.
“We pushed strongly for an amendment to the legislation that would have permitted camping with agreement from the landholders with the grazing licence.
“I believe this would have struck a more appropriate balance between protecting the rights of leaseholders and giving access to campers.
“Having ignored the concerns of landholders, Labor is now figuring out the detailed regulations that will sit underneath the change.
“While this is a classic example of putting the cart before the horse, it is incredibly important that landholders affected take the time to read the draft regulations and provide feedback.”
Mr Bull said he was particularly concerned about how the rules will be enforced.
“The vast majority of people do the right thing, but I am concerned landholders will have little recourse when someone does not adhere to the regulations,” he said.
“Our local police do not have the resources to move on people who are not doing the right thing or ensure they are following the rules in the middle of the night.
“I want more protection for the adjoining property holders who will need to live with the consequences if campers do the wrong thing.
“I encourage all East Gippsland landholders to read the draft regulations and provide feedback within the next six weeks.”
To read the regulations and participate in the consultation process please visit, www.engage.vic.gov.au/regulated-watercourse-land-regulations.
Thursday, March 11, 2020