The campaign to build a new residential aged care facility in Bright will take a step up on Tuesday as Helen Haines hosts a roundtable with two federal ministers in a bid to secure federal funding for the project.
The Independent Federal Member for Indi has secured the attendance of the federal Minister for Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck and the federal Minister for Regional Health David Gillespie to allow the local community to make their case directly to the federal decision-makers.
The two federal ministers will hear from the Alpine Shire Mayor Sarah Nicholas, Alpine Health CEO Nick Shaw as well as local health professionals, about the need for the new facility. Dr Haines will also be joined in the roundtable by Victorian representatives Tim McCurdy and Tania Maxwell.
Dr Haines said there is strong case for federal funding, and has commissioned research from the Parliamentary Library showing that the federal government has funded many similar projects across Australia.
“There are many examples where this government has put large sums of money towards individual aged care centres – $15.4 million for a project in Queensland, $12.4 million for a project in South Australia”.
“I think Bright deserves that same treatment. Bright is the only town of its size in Victoria that doesn’t have a high needs aged care facility. The case for the federal government to invest is overwhelming”.
The former nurse and rural health researcher said that the government’s funding commitments to date have been inadequate, with Government spending on residential aged care less than 10 per cent of what the Aged Care Royal Commission recommended.
“The Royal Commission called for $1 billion to be invested in residential aged care facilities every year. The government has told me there is just $80 million a year for the next four years. I would hate to see towns like Bright miss out because the government failed to deliver on the Royal Commission”.
The masterplan for the redevelopment of Alpine Health in Bright includes an upgrade for the Bright Hospital, that would be funded by the Victorian Government.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley, Attorney General and Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes, former minister for ageing James Merlino and Treasurer Tim Pallas have all declined to attend the meeting.
“It is unfortunate that no Victorian representative were available to engage in this meeting, where there is a rare chance for federal representatives, local representatives and state representatives to meet and work together across party lines to get the best outcome for Bright and surrounds,” Dr Haines said.
“I hope that having seen how seriously the federal government is engaging with this project, the Victorian government will come to the table in the new year.”