Expanding the role of the National Rural Health Commissioner
The Australian Government is delivering on its commitment to improve health outcomes for regional Australians by expanding the Office of the National Rural Health Commissioner and making the role permanent.
Legislation I introduced to extend the Office passed both houses of Parliament this week, ensuring communities and health workers in regional Australia will continue to have a strong independent advocate on rural health issues.
In addition to making the role permanent, I have also expanded the Office to include two Deputy Commissioners, who will play a critical role supporting the National Rural Health Commissioner by providing specialised expertise across a range of vital health disciplines including Indigenous health, nursing and allied health.
The new-look Office will now have the capacity to undertake targeted projects to further improve access to rural health services and develop more sustainable models of care.
These changes build on the rapid reforms we’ve made to rural health in response to COVID-19, such as better utilising technology and connectivity for healthcare delivery and medical training, ensuring better health outcomes in the bush.
Parkes Airports to take off with Federal Government funding
The Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack recently announced that five airports in the Parkes electorate will receive significant funding from the Coalition Government to re-seal runways, build fencing, install CCTV and improve safety for emergency service workers and passengers.
Airports in the Parkes electorate will collectively receive over $1 million in new funding through the Regional Airports Program. This investment will support local airports struggling with the effects of COVID-19, including:
- Narrabri Airport – apron upgrades to improve access for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Rural Fire Service – $299,392;
- Gilgandra Aerodrome – a runway lighting upgrade to keep the airport operational at night and reduce maintenance costs – $83,159;
- Dubbo Airport – funding for perimeter fencing, runway lighting, line marking, and the installation of CCTV and terminal fencing – $198,000; and
- Narromine Regional Airport – installation of pilot activated lighting on the taxiway and the holding point, and installation of fencing and an illuminated wind indicator – $419,750.
Prostate Nurses in Parkes
I am pleased the Australian Government announced this week it will invest $23 million over the next three years to place additional prostate cancer nurses in over 40 new locations around Australia, including in Dubbo and Broken Hill.
Prostate cancer is estimated to be the second most common cause of cancer deaths in Australian men. Sadly, more than 16,700 Australian men are expected to be diagnosed with the disease this year.
The Australian Government is committed to improving health outcomes for men with prostate cancer and is making significant investments in the provision of specialised nurses, medical services though the Medicare Benefits Scheme, and pharmaceuticals through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
The expansion of the specialist prostate nurse program will improve access to health services in the Parkes electorate, and is part of the Coalition Government’s plan to make regional Australia a better place to work, live and raise a family.
COVID-19: Support for children and young people
I am also pleased the Australian Government is investing $550,000 over two years to support children and young people who have a parent or guardian with a mental illness.
One in five Australians aged 16-85 experiences a mental illness in any year. Children of parents with mental illness are often at greater risk of experiencing their own mental health issues, and in many cases have faced greater caring responsibilities as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
This funding, which will be delivered through the Satellite Foundation, will ensure that young people who have a parent with mental illness will receive the skills and confidence to manage the challenges they face.
The funding is being provided as part of the Government’s $74 million investment in preventative mental health services that is supporting the mental health and wellbeing of Australians during the coronavirus pandemic.
Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Beyond Blue (1300 224 636), Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health.