Bush Nursing Centres – Swifts Creek seeking additional funding

Ms BATH (Eastern Victoria) (18:56): My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health. Throughout the fire events in East Gippsland the bush nursing centres have had a dramatic increase in presentations. These fantastic nurses are treating locals and visitors, CFA and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning workers for burns, injuries, smoke-related conditions, infections and unfortunately increased stress and mental health issues.

Though only funded for weekdays, the reality is the bush nursing system is really the first responder, and for ambulance pagers as well, so in effect they are on call 24 hours a day. I have been in contact with the state government through the bushfire response for additional resources and personnel as well as a top-up for basic medical items that have been consumed rapidly in the fire.

In relation specifically to the Swifts Creek Bush Nursing Centre, like all of them they have to fundraise to keep the doors open, and they literally hold chook raffles, cent nights and different activities in order to keep their doors open. It is quite interesting when you understand this because Minister Mikakos made a comment in relation to the budget last year, when she said:

I rise to inform the house on how the … Victorian budget is ensuring that Victorians have access to world-class health care in world-class facilities regardless of where they live.

I am concerned that our country people, our people in the High Country, in East Gippsland and in the northern part of the state as well, are scrambling and having to fundraise on a regular basis, and also our nurses are stressed by the burden that they carry.

The Swifts Creek Bush Nursing Centre needs $100 000 in addition every year as well as a $30 000 boost to cover the costs from the bushfires. I noticed also today that the minister responded to Ms Crozier and in her response talked about support during the recovery. This is a great concern to the bush nurses. They are really quite stressed about their communities and how they will continue to fund and supply incredibly high quality care to their communities, visitors and other people moving into the area for bushfire relief et cetera.

The minister really needs key understanding around these aspects, and it seems that she is not really listening. So what Sue Carroll and all the bush nurses in East Gippsland would like is for the minister to actually meet with them. They are happy to take the day off and come to Melbourne, but they want to be able to comprehensively state their position, state their needs and have some redress in relation to ongoing security and funding.