Federal Rural Health Minister Tours Kimberley and Pilbara
Warren Snowdon, the Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery, has toured the Kimberley and Pilbara to talk about health reform and health issues of importance to the region.
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11 April 2010
Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery, Warren Snowdon has toured the Kimberley and Pilbara to talk about health reform and health issues of importance to the region.
He met with health professionals and visited the following regional facilities during his two-day visit: Kununurra Hospital and Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service, Halls Creek Hospital and Yura Yingi Aboriginal Medical Service, Broome Hospital and Port Hedland Hospital.
Mr Snowdon said the Rudd Government is committed to delivering better health services and better hospitals to regional and rural Australia.
“Hospitals will be funded federally and run locally. An independent umpire will determine the fair price for services, taking into account remoteness and the particular circumstances and health care needs of people living in rural Australia.
“No rural and regional hospital will be forced to close because of reforms being implemented as part of the Rudd Government’s National Health and Hospitals Network,” he said.
“We recognise that many smaller rural hospitals face higher staffing and equipment costs, and cannot achieve the economies of scale that large hospitals can,” Mr Snowdon said.
To ensure that rural hospitals with low patient throughput can continue to deliver vital services, the Rudd Government will fund them through block grants, where needed.
“During my visit I met with a number of health professionals and stakeholders who voiced their concerns about the difficulties in attracting and retaining workforce in the regions, given high living costs, remoteness of communities and towns and the capacity of current infrastructure,” Mr Snowdon said.
“It’s obvious that the remoteness of these regions makes it very difficult to source accommodation that’s both appropriate and affordable,” he said.
In the East Kimberley, as part of the East Kimberley Development package, the Rudd Government is providing $20 million for the expansion of the Kununurra Hospital, and $4 million for short stay accommodation in the town.
More recently, the Rudd Government announced $1.3 million for the University of Western Australia for the establishment of a new teaching and administration centre in Broome.
“This new facility will provide teaching facilities for Aboriginal health workers, medical and pharmaceutical students, as well as space for research staff and post graduate students.”
This project is one of 22 Australia wide, worth $33 million recently announced under the Rural Education Infrastructure Development program.
In addition, the Rudd Government is investing $46m under the National Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Program for capital works and equipment in rural and remote areas.
“Under this program $500,000 has been provided to the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council in acquire a premises for a multi-purpose clinic.
“In addition, $550,000 was provided to the Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service to develop a health educational promotional unit.”
Given the high proportion of Aboriginal people in the regions, Minister Snowdon was also pleased to announce that the Rudd Government has signed the first of many agreements with States and Territories to tackle trachoma in Indigenous communities.
The Rudd Government will provide almost $1.7 million to the Western Australia Country Health Service until 30 June next year, to expand WA’s programs to prevent and control trachoma.
Under this agreement more than 85 communities will be screened and treated for trachoma, including 20 communities not previously visited. The program will include increased numbers of visits to communities to facilitate greater participation and follow up treatment.
The funding is part of the Rudd Government’s $58.3 million commitment to Improving Eye and Ear Health Services for Indigenous Australians for Better Education and Employment, unveiled in 2009.
Media contact: Alice Plate 0400 045 999
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