Photo caption: Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton (right) pictured with Gunnedah Shire Mayor Jamie Chaffey at AgQuip last week.
Clarifying Marrabinya concerns
A peaceful protest took place outside my Dubbo office last Friday, in response to changes to the Integrated Team Care (ITC) Program, which is currently being delivered by Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation under the Marrabinya name.
The ITC program supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with chronic conditions to access the health care they need. It is funded by the Australian Government, through the Primary Health Network. In the western region, the ITC Program is managed by the Western NSW Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN).
I am sympathetic to the concerns held by members of the Aboriginal community in relation to the continuation of this program, however there is a narrative being widely circulated that is, to my understanding, not correct. It is important to clarify what the proposed changes actually are.
I have been reassured by the WNSW PHN that the ITC Program will be continuing under a revised model, which involves a change in providers. Instead of being delivered solely through Maari Ma under the Marrabinya name, the program will be delivered by local Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHO).
Contracts have already been awarded to local AMS and ACCHOs, including Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation, as well as Bourke Aboriginal Corporation, Walgett Aboriginal Corporation Health Service, Condobolin Aboriginal Health Service Incorporated, and Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service Limited in the Parkes electorate.
This will provide a more localised approach, ensuring the service can be tailored to specific community and individual requirements. Importantly, the program will continue to be delivered by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people.
It is very unfortunate that our most vulnerable people have been unnecessarily upset by misleading public discourse. There has never been any intention to cancel or de-fund the ITC Program.
Meeting with new Water Minister
Late last week I had the opportunity to meet with Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek to discuss various water issues, including the Better Baaka program. It was a productive meeting and I look forward to working with the Minister to ensure the Better Baaka program can achieve the best outcomes for the community and the environment.
AgQuip returns with a bang
It was wonderful to attend the first day of AgQuip last week, joining my state Nationals colleagues Kevin Anderson, Paul Toole, Dugald Saunders and Dave Layzell at the National Party’s site where I had the opportunity to catch up with various members of the community.
Despite a few showers, it was fantastic to see a large crowd through the gates to support the event, the exhibitors and the Gunnedah community after two years of cancellations. We were still in the middle of drought the last time AgQuip was held, so it was nice to see mud on the ground this year instead of dust.
Congratulations to all involved on such a successful event, and thank you to the thousands of people who travelled to the region to support the agricultural industry.
Commemorating Vietnam Veterans’ Day
Last week we commemorated Vietnam Veterans’ Day, on the 56th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
The Vietnam War was one of the bloodiest struggles of the 20th century, and an event which generated controversy and public protest on a previously unseen scale. Amidst the politics, the calamity, and the increasing public antipathy, there were Australians in uniform, serving their country, fighting to halt the march of communism.
Our Australian soldiers fought diligently and with distinction, and yet many did not receive the homecoming they deserved.
That is why Vietnam Veterans’ Day is so important.
It’s a day to honour the 521 Australians who lost their lives and the more than 3,000 who were wounded in Vietnam. And it’s an opportunity to acknowledge the almost 60,000 Australians who served, especially those still with us who continue to carry the emotional and physical scars of this conflict.
Thank you to all the Vietnam veterans in the Parkes electorate. Lest we forget.