Thursday, 21 February 2019
Petitions: Rural and Regional Health Services
I'd like to present a petition to the Australian parliament on behalf of 1,341 petitioners from Gwydir Shire in my electorate and the electorate of New England. The petitioners from Gwydir Shire are concerned by the 277 already identified vacancies for GPs in rural locations across the Commonwealth and are concerned about the need for GPs to move to regional and rural areas and to stay there on a long-term basis. They have identified some government policies that they would like attention to, and they are in the petition.
I will say that, in response to the critical need for health professionals, particularly GPs in rural areas, the government has made a considerable effort, more recently with the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network, where doctors now will be doing end-to-end training in regional areas as well as their specialty training. In Dubbo, for instance, under the auspice of the University of Sydney's medical school, students will be able to do their complete medical training in Dubbo and even continue on if they wish to do specialist training. That's one of the issues that we have. As the model for health delivery changes, as the aspirations of our health professionals have shifted over the last couple of decades, we need to be flexible, to make sure that we have programs in place.
Unfortunately, the days of doctors coming to a town and buying a practice and staying there for a long time are limited. I have to say, in Warialda's case, where these petitioners are coming from, we have been very privileged to have Dr Clem Gordon and his wife, Dr Diana Coote, who have been in Warialda for 28 years. When they had their 25th anniversary of being in the town, 500 people out of a population of a thousand turned up to celebrate. There is a concern when Clem and Di decide to retire and move on as to how Warialda is going to be serviced in such a fine way, as they have been for the last 28 years. It gives me great privilege on behalf of the petitioners to present this to the Australian parliament.
The petition s read as follows—