On Monday this week I had the pleasure to attend the unveiling of Mildura Base Public Hospital’s amazing aboriginal artwork.
The artwork is a brilliant display of the talent in our community, and of the Base Hospital’s commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians in our community.
Although he was unable to attend in person, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, asked me to read a statement on his behalf. He said that by moving back to public management the Base Hospital will seek to create new opportunities for closing the health gaps experienced by our indigenous peoples.
Personally, I have always been supportive of the Base Hospital and its transition to public ownership. I want the hospital to succeed in its new form for the same reason I wanted it to succeed in its previous form – because I want the best health outcomes for all people in our region. Access and equity are important ingredients of a public health system.
The return of the Base Hospital to public management means it can now take full advantage of Commonwealth Government funding for state run hospitals. The 2020 Commonwealth Budget allocated $133.6 billion over five years to fund public hospitals, an increase of $33.6 billion on the previous agreement with States and Territories.
I want Mildura, the most isolated city in Victoria, to be a healthcare hub for the northern Mallee region. We need Mildura to stand on its own feet, and reduce our reliance on Adelaide, Melbourne, and Bendigo as far as practicable. That’s why I’m excited about the Commonwealth Government’s $6.5 million dollar investment to establish a Radiation Oncology Service in Mildura, which means people living with cancer won’t need to travel great distances for radiotherapy treatment.
But if we are to become more self-reliant, a key issue that needs to be resolved is workforce. We need to train, attract, and retain the right healthcare professionals to meet the needs of our community.
I’ve been campaigning for the establishment of an undergraduate biomedicine degree at La Trobe University’s Mildura campus, to give students in the region more opportunity to train locally.
Your health should not be determined by your postcode. I want to reassure the community that improving outcomes in healthcare will always be one of my highest priorities.