June 16, 2022
New Health Minister invited to the Border to discuss Albury Wodonga Health
Helen Haines has written to the new Federal Health Minister Mark Butler, inviting him to visit Indi to fully understand the health care challenges faced in the region, and to discuss the need for federal funding for a new single-site hospital in Albury Wodonga.
The Independent Federal Member for Indi campaigned for the former government to commit to funding a new hospital on the border alongside the Victorian and New South Wales governments, and is committed to keeping the pressure on the newly elected government.
“This is just the first step in ensuring the new Health Minister is aware of what action is needed here in Indi, of continuing the fight for a new hospital on the border,” Dr Haines said.
“I will not rest until all three governments have stumped up to deliver for our community.”
Dr Haines requested close collaboration on regional health matters, outlining the situation facing Albury Wodonga Health, as well as the requirement for infrastructure funding for smaller rural hospitals across Indi.
The letter also outlined the challenges faced in regional areas to attract and retain medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and mental health workers.
“A new hospital for Albury Wodonga is vital. Albury Wodonga Health is the busiest health service in Victoria outside of Melbourne and Geelong – busier than Bendigo or Ballarat – and the population is set to grow even further. Governments need to step up to meet this growing need for health care in our community.”
Dr Haines requested an initial meeting with Mr Butler, and invited him to visit Albury Wodonga soon to hear directly from the Albury Wodonga Health Board, the local workforce and community about the situation they face now and into the future.
“I am committed to holding this Government accountable on the promises it has made, and I am extending this invitation to work constructively to meet the needs of the community in Indi and across the border region,” Dr Haines said.
Dr Haines also met with representatives of community group Better Border Health on Thursday, to discuss the campaign for a new hospital on the border.
National Cabinet will meet on Friday for the first time since the new federal government was elected, and it is expected the division of health funding between the states and federal government will be a top item of discussion.
“The people of Indi want an end to governments passing the buck over health funding. What we have seen over the last two years is how important it is that all levels of government must work together if we are to receive the health care we need.
“The hospital system is still under immense strain due to the pandemic and the increased numbers of influenza. We must deal with the current pressures and properly plan for our health system to be able to hold up into the future.”