House debates

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Regional Australia

2:49 pm

Photo of Anne WebsterAnne Webster (Mallee, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Regional Health. Will the minister please update the House on actions the Morrison-Joyce government is taking to protect regional, rural and remote Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Photo of David GillespieDavid Gillespie (Lyne, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'd first like to compliment the member for Mallee for her fierce campaigning and advocacy for her cross-border communities to make sure they don't get caught in the COVID crossfire and get access to the medical services they deserve across the river or across the border. Please be reassured that we are vaccinating at record levels around rural, regional and remote Australia. That is why in last week's figures 493,000—almost half a million—of those 1.9 million doses were delivered in the out-of-metro regions in Australia. It's constantly being calibrated, recalibrated and adjusted so that we get more points of care, more points of vaccination and more point-of-care testing around regional Australia.

In the member for Mallee's electorate—she'll be reassured; she's there on the ground and she probably knows this, but this is just to illustrate the point—there are 10 general practices in her home town, there are five community pharmacies, there's one Aboriginal medical service and there's one Commonwealth vaccination centre. The Royal Flying Doctor Service has brought forward their latest visit this week not only into the Mallee but up near the Queensland border down the coast. Just yesterday and today they were at Wreck Bay. I would like to compliment the Flying Doctor. They have turned up again. I want to give a big shout-out to one of their nurses, Kellyann Johnson, who's Indigenous and is from the Jervis Bay area. They were running a huge clinic in Wreck Bay. The oldest recipient was an 88-year-old Indigenous lady, and the youngest was a 12-year-old boy. One of the local leaders said, 'Kellyann is an inspiration, and now all the little kids say they want to be a Flying Doctor nurse too.' So thank you Kellyann.

Seriously; that latticework of community based primary care vaccination sites is why this ramp-up is working in regional Australia. If you look at the national figures, you see that, in the metro districts and outer metro, the vaccination last week at the finalisation of figures was 58 per cent. Just across the border in rural and regional Australia it was 57 per cent, so we're matching the metro rollout. There are some waves where we're a bit behind, but we're catching up rapidly. In the remote part of Australia we have got extra support through the ADF and through the Australian Medical Assistance Teams.

Rural Australia not only generates the wealth of the country; it's also the playground of the city folk, and we are working to make sure regional, rural and remote Australia reaches the 70 per cent and reaches the 80 per cent at the same time so we can all get going and get our lives back. We have a plan that's being delivered— (Time expired)