Mental health hubs can’t come soon enough
Free treatment, care and support for people who are experiencing mental health concerns will soon be available in Bairnsdale and Orbost, ensuring people seeking mental health services can access care closer to home and close to their support networks.
State Nationals MP for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, who has been advocating for increased services for some time, said the opening of the Mental Health and Well Being Local Hubs in Orbost and Bairnsdale should be imminent, after being promised almost 18 months ago.
“Having questioned the Minister last year I was advised they would be open “from mid-2023” and we have just passed that point in time, so when Parliament resumes this week, I will be seeking an update and also confirming the commitment I received that outreach services into homes and remote communities would be provided,” Mr Bull said.
“These services will support locals to engage directly with mental health service providers, assisting people to seek the help and treatment they need, close to home.
“The best part about the mental health hubs is that no referral is necessary and that they will operate under a no wrong door philosophy.
“I am delighted to have two Mental Health and Well Being Hubs established in my electorate, as for many, it will remove the need to travel for services and that is why the outreach component is so important.
“As a result, the existing mental health workforce capacity will be strengthened and it will alleviate the patient load on our hardworking providers, who’ve supported or community as well as they possibly could throughout periods of drought, fire and Covid.
“East Gippsland has put up with a lot over recent years and these supports are overdue.
“The Royal Commission into Mental Health recommended the Victorian Government establish a new mental health system, as the current model was failing.
“While there is plenty more work to be done, I will push to expedite the opening of the Mental Health and Well Being Hubs here in East Gippsland and support the placement of additional mental health treatment facilities and response hubs across regional Victoria,” Mr Bull said.
Monday, 31 July 2023
Education inquiry launch
Educational outcomes will be one of the major focus points of a parliamentary inquiry reviewing Victoria’s state education system.
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, commended his Nationals’ colleague and Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath, for her role in establishing the inquiry.
“As Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Education and a former teacher, Ms Bath has been integral in bringing this important state-wide issue to the fore.
“This inquiry will serve Victorian students, educators and school communities in examining not only the issues impacting educational outcomes through student learning and disengagement, but also improve professional support and teacher retention within the education system which is vital after the challenges of the pandemic,” Mr Bull said.
Mr Bull is urging everyone to have their say with submissions open now.
“It has been a long time – in fact almost 20 years – since there was a deep dive into the education system in this Victorian Parliament,” he said.
“The breadth of this inquiry really focuses on student learning outcomes, well-being, mental health and engagement.
“It is essential to unpack the issues in terms of listening to people in the field – teachers, principals, school leaders, school councils and parents and students.”
Ms Bath is also calling for an inquiry hearing to be held in Gippsland so that contributors are not burdened to travel to Melbourne, in order to have their say.
Public submissions to the inquiry close on Friday 13 October 2023. A report to parliament with findings and recommendations for government is due by 25 June 2024.
Monday, 24 July 2023
Games explanation required from Shing
Local Nationals MP, Tim Bull says the cancelling of the Commonwealth Games was disappointing for Gippslanders and was an opportunity missed to promote the region.
Gippsland was hosting events including rugby sevens, T20 cricket, badminton and road cycling that would have showcased the wider region to millions of people worldwide and attracted thousands of visitors.
Mr Bull said it was just 28 days ago Labor Minister for Commonwealth Games Legacy and Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Harriet Shing, stated “I am looking forward to continuing the engagements with local councils, with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), with community sporting facilities and with everybody who is working so hard to develop the momentum that will really enable these games to shine”.
“We deserve a better explanation from Ms Shing in relation to how it all got to this, especially given the comments of respected Games CEO, Craig Phillips AM.
Mr Phillips made the following comments earlier this week and posed a number of queries the State Government needs to answer:
“It is a comprehensive let down for the athletes and the excited host communities.
“The multi-city model for delivering Victoria 2026 was an approach proposed by the Victorian Government. It was pitched to the Commonwealth Games Federation after Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA). They did not step in as hosts at the last minute, as indicated by the Premier earlier today.
“The detailed budgetary implications announced today have not been sighted or discussed with the CGF or CGA. The stated costs overrun, in our opinion, are a gross exaggeration and not reflective of the operational costs presented to the Victoria 2026 Organising Committee board as recently as June.
“Beyond this, the Victorian Government wilfully ignored recommendations to move events to purpose-built stadia in Melbourne and in fact remained wedded to proceeding with expensive temporary venues in regional Victoria. CGA would welcome the opportunity to review the financial analysis prepared independently of those who have been involved at the coal face of planning and delivery.”
Mr Bull said given it has been widely reported the cost of the Birmingham Games in 2022 was $1.5 billion, alongside $2 billion for the Gold Coast Games and $1 billion for the Glasgow Games, the questions posed by Mr Phillips are pertinent and those costings referred to by the Premier and Ms Shing should be released.
In addition, many are also asking what it will cost the state to ‘get out’. Former Queensland Labor Premier Peter Beattie, who chaired the 2018 Games on the Gold Coast, has warned the contract will be ‘tough’ for Victoria to get out of, saying "You have to remember that the Commonwealth Games Federation does this on a regular basis with a tight contract and the contract will be difficult to get out of.”
“I have grave concerns the State Government will follow through with the package it has announced given they have scrapped the airport link and fast rail services committed before the election and the electric vehicle manufacturing plant promised for the Valley fell flat.
“I hope Ms Shing is as forthcoming with the answers to Mr Phillips’ questions,” he said.
Thursday, 20 July 2023
Nats MPs volunteer at Ronald McDonald House
Victorian Nationals MPs recently volunteered to cook dinner for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Melbourne’s North Fitzroy.
Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) in Victoria and Tasmania support more than 2000 families of seriously ill children, as well as high-risk pregnancies requiring medical treatment, predominantly from regional and rural areas.
Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said so many people in our community have benefitted from the remarkable work of the RMCH charity, either directly or indirectly through knowing someone who relied on the accommodation support.
“The service that the Ronald McDonald Houses provide is critical for regional families when a child is undergoing specialist medical treatment that’s only accessible in Melbourne,” Mr Bull said.
“They provide for essential accommodation, comfort, care, and kindness to regional families when they need it most.
“It was a humbling experience preparing a meal for families who are away from their home and support networks, due to their child seeking treatment, and to be able to chat to those families gave a great insight into what they are experiencing.
“It was great to play a small part in supporting families accessing the service – cooking a homestyle meal and sitting around the dining table, listening to their stories.”
While connected to McDonalds, Ronald McDonald House services are reliant on external funding, including Government grants and donations from the community to keep the service operating.
“It is difficult to comprehend the true financial, emotional, and mental cost of caring for a child who need to undergo treatment at a hospital that is far from home,” Mr Bull said.
“The road ahead for their family often means countless days navigating the hospital system, but thanks to the Ronald McDonald Houses, some of the stress is alleviated.
“There are many fabulous volunteer opportunities at RMHC that can be undertaken to help support seriously ill children and their families.
Caption: The Victorian Nationals MPs volunteered to cook dinner for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House.
Monday, 17 July 2023
Local students walk in the footsteps of our soldiers
Abi Gladstone and Angus Davis trekked the gruelling Kokoda Trail and return as ambassadors.
Orbost Secondary College students, Abi Gladstone and Angus Davis, recipients of Arthur Grassby Scholarships, recently returned from their eight-day, 124-kilometre journey across Papua New Guinea, accompanied by Gippsland East Nationals’ MPs, Tim Bull and Melina Bath.
The Arthur Grassby Scholarship, named in honour of the Kokoda veteran who lived in Bairnsdale, provides funding for Year 11 students (the age of many of the soldiers), the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the brave and those from Gippsland who fought one of the most desperate series of battles across the Owen Stanley Ranges from Kokoda to the doorstep of Port Moresby.
Arthur was a member of B Company of the 39th Battalion (around 120 men which included 68 Gippslanders) that engaged the first wave of 2,000 Japanese at Kokoda. He survived this battle, which many of his fellow Company did not, only to be wounded at the battle of Isurava weeks later.
He walked to Port Moresby with shrapnel in his shoulder and racked with malaria. Arthur was a living legend unfortunately passing away in early 2020. The 2/14th, which also featured prominently on the Trail, were also raised from Victoria and included members from Gippsland.
Along with thirteen other students from East Gippsland, Warragul and Wangaratta secondary schools, Abi and Angus were fortunate to be selected for the opportunity to trek Kokoda following an application and interview process.
“Students were invited to write an essay on Kokoda, with a focus on the involvement of those from their area and the importance of the campaign in Australian history,” said Mr Bull, chair of the Arthur Grassby Scholarship Committee who has now completed his third trek.
“From these essays, students were shortlisted for interview and selected by an independent panel made up of ex-service personnel from local RSL Clubs.
“The purpose of the scholarship (along with the George Collins Scholarship for Warragul students and the Bob Iskov Scholarship for Wangaratta students) is to increase our younger
generation’s awareness of the sacrifices made by those in our regions so the students can enjoy the lives and freedoms they relish today,” Mr Bull said.
“The expectation on the students upon their return is to share the story of Kokoda and become ambassadors of Australia’s historical campaign”.
Angus shared his reason for applying for the scholarship was to “better understand what those who fought in the Kokoda campaign had to endure”.
“In the coming years, I am hoping to join the Australian Army and feel that walking Kokoda will provide me with a great experience and enable me to connect better with the history of the defence force,” said Angus.
Visiting the major battle sites including Imita Ridge, Ioribaiwa Ridge, Brigade Hill, Templeton’s Crossing, Eora Creek, Isurava, Deniki and Kokoda, Abi and Angus learnt about the history of WWII in Kokoda.
“I think it is important that the youth of Australia are aware of the Kokoda campaign as it was not only a turning point in the war for Australia and the Allied Powers, but if the Japanese had broken through, they could have invaded Australia next,” said Angus.
“If it wasn’t for the bravery of men like Arthur Grassby that would have likely happened,” he conceded.
Mr Bull acknowledged “it was a tough experience physically and mentally in hot and humid conditions as we pushed through the gruelling and relentless challenge, providing the students with an appreciation of what the soldiers endured over 80 years ago”.
“The youth today have less hardship than that of past generations,” said Abi, who applied for the scholarship to push herself out of her comfort zone and to “walk in the footsteps of the 39th Battalion”.
“During my trek of the Kokoda trail, I learnt about the courage and endurance shown by the Australian soldiers as they fought for the freedoms we enjoy today” provided Angus following the experience.
Abi highlighted that it was an “amazing experience, recommend to anyone”.
“Abi and Angus worked hard and should be extremely proud of themselves and what they’ve achieved, and it was a very impressive performance by Abi in particular as she became ill on the Trail and pushed through it – she showed a lot of courage,” commended Mr Bull.
“Apart from the military history, the students also experienced some of the world’s best scenery and a difficult culture.
“The warmth of the Papuans was evident with bonds formed with the native carriers (many descendants of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels), and the interactions between the trekkers and the youth of the different mountain villages was a delight to see.
“For the students, it was one of those life defining experiences providing an appreciation of the sacrifices made so they can live the lives they do today.”
Now in its sixth year and having sent close to thirty students to date, the Arthur Grassby Scholarship will be open to Year 11 secondary schoolers in 2024 and I encourage individuals to apply for this lifechanging experience,” said Mr Bull.
Monday, 17 July 2023
Damaged barriers not being fixed
Damaged road barriers in East Gippsland are not being repaired in over 12 months.
Gippsland East Nationals’ MP, Tim Bull, said he has raised the lack of repairs with the Roads and Road Safety Minister in the last sitting week of Parliament before the mid-year break.
“Between Bairnsdale and Sale there are 170 centre of the road bull nose barriers and in around 10 cases they are severely damaged where vehicles have slammed into them. Some have been in disrepair for over 12 months,” Mr Bull told State Parliament.
“Similarly, six months ago a truck rollover occurred at the Lucknow roundabout and damaged the barriers significantly, and it too is not yet repaired.
“Given these are serious road safety issues and we have a rising road toll, I have asked the Minister why they have not been fixed in over a year and I have also asked for a timeline on the repair work being done.
“This has highlighted two things. The barriers are a major hazard given how many vehicles are crashing into them and the Department’s inability to repair them when damaged.
“Whenever I raise this concern about the increased level of accidents, I am told the barrier strike has potentially avoided a head on collision.
“However, the drivers I have spoken to say they didn’t have time to correct because the ripple strip beside the barrier is too close and they could have rectified the situation had it not been so cramped.
“There is no doubt the barriers have stopped some head on crashes, but the government has conceded they have not been installed to the current standards. The carriageway is ‘too tight’ and needs to be widened as it is in other areas with a wider centre median.”
Caption: Damaged roadside barriers have not been fixed after a year and local MP, Tim Bull, is seeking urgent action.
Monday, 10 July 2023