Bush Nursing Centres – increase in funding for Covid-19 response

Ms BATH (Eastern Victoria) (18:05): My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Health in the other place. It relates to a very important element of our health services, and that is the bush nursing centres that are scattered throughout remote areas, and in particular the six that are in Eastern Victoria Region. They do an amazing job of supporting our community, supporting health in our community and being the very linchpin of that effort in regional Victoria. They are funded for five days a week, but in reality they are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many of the nurses live within the town or within close proximity to that hamlet or town.

They provide an amazing array of services, and I will list just a few. They go out on site to support the elderly and provide a comprehensive care plan so that the elderly can stay in their own homes. They support obstetricians and GPs to do antenatal care and then postnatal care for mother and baby. They look at women’s health and the whole gamut of issues that relate to women’s health, cervical screening—men’s health as well—and preventative measures. They facilitate rural and isolated practice endorsed registered nurses, which are a very important element and which really are that intermediate role between seeing a doctor and getting the support and medical needs that patients need, suturing and medication. They are amazing support, and they pivot and are nimble in times of stress. We saw that was very much so during the 2019–20 fires, where they were on the front line of the emergency response and dealt with quite graphic injuries and smoke-related conditions, and they are absolutely gold in their communities.

At the moment they are pivoting to become vaccination nurses in terms of the Previous DocumentCOVIDNext Document response, but they require extra funding and extra PPE. They require potentially extra funding to run that and to become nurse immunisers. In the budget there is no line item that mentions bush nursing centres whatsoever this year. They seem to have to be the poor cousin and go cap in hand to the government time and time again. What we need is a line item. We need specific funding, and it needs to be adequate to service all of their supportive needs. So the action I seek from the minister is to provide ongoing funding to bush nursing, to provide comprehensive funding so that people in the country can actually get the service they need on an ongoing basis and to support those bush nursing services.