Senate support for rural health in Meander Valley

A bevy of Tasmanian senators have supported a plea from the Meander Valley Council to fight proposed funding cuts to the Rural Primary Health Services Program.

The changes would see three jobs lost and the closures of all programs at the Westbury Community Health Centre.

Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson authored a motion which was passed in the Senate last week, noting the council’s concern about the impact of the proposed funding cuts.

He also called on the federal government to recognise the importance of the Westbury and Deloraine Community Health Centres to the Meander Valley when implementing its changes to the Rural Primary Health Services Program.

“We’ve received phone calls from Meander Valley residents who are very concerned over the news that funding for the Meander Valley Rural Primary Health Services, and programs like Meander Valley Women on the Move and Blokes Days could be cut as soon as December 31,” Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said.

“The Meander Valley area is characterised by an aged population, high youth unemployment and underemployment, and low household income. It’s essential that the federal government continues to fund important youth and social work practices that support the community, including in preventative health and mental health, particularly through the Westbury and Deloraine Community Health Centres.”

The motion was also supported by Tasmanian Labor senators and independent senator Jacqui Lambie.

“When Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson moved to acknowledge and support the council and it's services, I proudly used my vote in the Senate in support,” Senator Lambie said. “The Meander Valley Council recently opened its arms to welcome a Teen Challenge mums and bubs rehabilitation centre in their region, as such the Meander Valley's health services and health centres need to be strengthened when implementing changes to the Rural Primary Health Services Program, not weakened.”

Tasmania’s Labor federal representatives co-signed a letter to Health Minister Sussan Ley last week, requesting a meeting to find a way to support the Meander Valley Council's request.

“We all must work together to find a way to secure these important youth and social work services in the Meander Valley," said Labor senator Anne Urquhart.