On the road across the Parkes electorate
I spent last week on the road, travelling from Moree to Narrabri, Dubbo to Condobolin, Lake Cargelligo, Cobar, Wilcannia and Menindee to Broken Hill, and everywhere in between.
The Parkes electorate is just shy of 400,000 square kilometres, and often the best way to serve its many and varied communities is to simply get in the car and drive, to meet with people face to face and experience things firsthand.
I spoke at NAIDOC Week celebrations in Moree, and presented Coalition Government funding to organisations including the Broken Hill YMCA for an upgrade, Cobar Shire Council to erect a Miners Memorial in Cobar, and further funding to develop their Grey Mardi Gras event, and museums at both Nyngan and Narromine to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day. Further grants have been awarded to Condobolin Shire Council, Lifeline Broken Hill and Broken Hill City Council to help build safer communities. I am pleased to see these welcome investments in the hard-working communities right across my electorate.
I also met with constituents to discuss issues pertinent to their lives, organisations and communities, which is a commitment I take seriously, and I look forward to the next opportunity to visit these areas.
Scholar round for New Colombo Plan
Each year the New Colombo Plan scholarship program supports around 120 scholars across Australia to live, study and undertake internships in 40 locations in the Indo-Pacific region.
This program is a signature foreign policy initiative of the Coalition Government, and university nominations are open from 1 July to 31 July 2018. Student applications will open on 1 August and close 30 August 2018.
Universities can nominate up to 10 undergraduate students per institution, who can apply for this prestigious scholarship. If you’re an Australian undergraduate interested in this opportunity, now is the time to contact the Scholarship Officer at your university to indicate your interest.
The New Colombo Plans scholarship program has supported 30,000 undergraduates across 40 Australian universities since its launch in 2013 and I encourage anyone who is interested to head to dfat.gov.au for guidelines and FAQs from previous years.
Simplifying aged care access
I’m pleased to report that aged care access will soon be simplified, with more than $85 million to streamline means testing and improve the My Aged Care system.
The changes will help hundreds of thousands of older Australians and their families. A taskforce has been announced to create a simple new means test form for people entering aged care and provide recommendations on faster means testing, including for those with complex financial affairs.
The current 28-page form can be challenging, so major simplifications will be in place by May next year. Led by the Department of Human Services, the taskforce will include representation from consumer groups, aged care providers, financial advisers and relevant government agencies.
Work is also commencing on a revamp of the My Aged Care portal to make access easier. This portal is a vital tool for older Australians and their families and carers, with more than 3.5 million website visits per year.
My Aged Care will receive an upgraded website and enhanced service finder, more self-service options, a client journey dashboard, and a referrals system for health professionals.
This will allow doctors and specialists to send referrals to My Aged Care directly from their clinical information systems, and to track the progress of their clients through My Aged Care.
I believe these resources must be as easy to use as possible, providing people with the right information in a people-friendly format during what are often challenging times. This news is a step in the right direction for streamlining the system for aged care access.