13 MAY 2022

With just a week before election day, both major parties should commit the $26 million needed to build a new aged care facility in Bright, said Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines on Friday.

Haines visited Bright on Friday to continue her advocacy for the new aged care facility that forms part of Alpine Health’s masterplan for Bright Hospital.

Haines revealed that Bright was the only town of its size in Victoria that did not have a high needs aged care facility, and she had heard heartbreaking stories of older people being forced to travel to Mt Beauty or Wangaratta to get appropriate care.

“This community has called for a dedicated high-care facility for decades. Without one, older people may have to leave the only place they know and move to another town.

“Their spouses may be too old to drive to visit them and public transport for relatives and friends is sporadic or non-existent.

“It’s clear what’s needed. Now is the time to act.”

Speaking with members of the local community at the Bright Op Shop, Haines said commitments from the major parties were long overdue.

Haines, a former nurse and midwife who spent 30 years working in regional hospitals, has been a long-time advocate for the redevelopment of the Bright Hospital, holding a roundtable in December with the Federal Minister for Regional Health David Gillespie to show the Federal Government the significant need in the town.

As an Independent, Haines has also reached across party lines to bring together state government and local government representatives to ensure everyone at every level is working towards funding for better health facilities in Bright.

Last week the Victorian state government committed $1.5 million toward the project.

“It is high time the Federal Coalition and Labor parties invested in this facility for Bright,” Haines said.

“The Aged Care Royal Commission called for $1 billion to be invested in residential aged care facilities every year. The government has put on the table just $80 million a year for the entire country.

“The Government has spent less than 10 per cent of what the Aged Care Royal Commission said was needed. This Government has a legacy of short-changing older Australians in regional Australia. It’s not good enough.

Haines said the Federal Government had made similar investments around the country, and Bright must be next.

”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.”

“Bright deserves that same treatment. The case for the federal government to invest is overwhelming. With proper funding, we can upgrade our facilities and give our older residents the quality of care they deserve. ”

Haines said having an Independent representative in Parliament was essential to securing funding for projects like this.

“With a Labor Government in Victoria and a Coalition Government in Canberra, I have been able to make progress on this by bringing people together instead of playing party politics. That’s what I am determined to do – work hard and deliver for the people of Indi, not for party bosses.”

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