9 May 2022
Border health workers stand behind Haines as the champion for a new hospital this election
Dozens of doctors, nurses, midwives, and other health workers have stepped out with Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines to back her as the most trusted champion for a new single-site world-class hospital on the border this federal election.
The backing from health workers behind Haines comes days after the former Liberal Health Minister Sussan Ley refused to commit to contributing to the hospital and instead played more politics with the Victorian Premier.
“This election is about voting for someone who will fight for a new hospital for Albury Wodonga, who will stand up for the border, who will work with others and not throw insults across party lines,” Haines said.
“The hundreds of thousands of people who rely on Albury Wodonga Health need someone who will show leadership and fight for them, not delay and distract.”
“This election is about voting for someone who will fight for proper funding for regional health across Indi, to make sure we all get the care we deserve.”
Haines is a long-time advocate for a major funding contribution from the federal government towards a new hospital and is pressuring the major parties to stump up $300 million as part of their fair share of total project, estimated to cost $1 billion.
“Whatever happens on election day, I will keep the pressure on the Prime Minister, whoever that is, to make sure we get a fair financial contribution from the Commonwealth. I won’t disappear after election time, I’ll be here every day until it’s done.
In February Haines secured a public commitment from the federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to consider a funding proposal for a new hospital.
“I’ve met with the Prime Minister, Treasurer and Health Minister on many occasions to get them to work with the state governments to stump up the funds needed to make a new hospital on the border a reality.
Today’s landmark gathering of border health leaders is the continuation of Haines’ long campaign to bring the dire need for the hospital to national prominence, which included tabling a petition of almost 800 signatures in Parliament last year.
“The federal government would not even be talking about a new hospital here on the border if I had not forced them to the table,” she said.
Haines said she had spoken to hundreds of constituents on the border who told her what a new hospital would mean for them.
“The stress and trauma experienced by people in our community who must travel for their own medical care, or support their family members from a distance, adds to the difficulty of dealing with medical issues. A world-class facility on the border will take away that stress if people can get the care they need close to home.
Albury Wodonga Health, which runs one of the busiest regional health services in the state and is the only cross-border health service in the nation, has developed a masterplan for a new hospital which was announced as a priority project in April 2021 as part of a Clinical Services Plan.
The latest modelling shows the border region will need a new hospital capable of handling 150,000 emergency presentations, 40,000 surgeries and 1,900 births per annum by 2040.
“Our health workers do not need any more empty platitudes from our federal government. Our hospital has been in code yellow multiple times. We have ambulances ramping, surgeries being postponed, long waiting times to get the care we need. Our health workers and community need and deserve funding for a new hospital.”
Haines’ commitment to fight to secure $300 million from the federal government for the hospital is one of a suite of election commitments she is making about regional health this election.
In March Haines also committed to fighting to triple the number of locally trained doctors, nurses and other allied health workers in the region who have a higher likelihood of staying and working in the regions compared to city health workers paid to move here.
Haines has committed to working with the next government to expand the Murray Darling Medical School Network program at La Trobe University in Wodonga which currently only takes 15 medical students per year but received over 700 applications from eligible regional students last year.
Haines has also committed to fighting to establish a $1 billion rural health infrastructure fund for medical facility upgrades across the electorate including the much-needed redevelopment of the hospital in Mansfield and improvements in other towns like Benalla and Bright.
“As a nurse, I believe in decency, respect, common sense and caring for one another. All my life I have listened and fought for the needs of the people around me in the North East. It is what I do every day as the Independent Federal Member for Indi.”
Photo credit: James Wiltshire.