House debates

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Constituency Statements

Health Care

9:51 am

Photo of Rob MitchellRob Mitchell (McEwen, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I have risen in this chamber many times to speak on the issue of healthcare access in our electorate of McEwen. Under the previous government, access to healthcare services and particularly GPs was abysmal. Families across our electorate struggled to access even the most basic medical care. Every Australian deserves to be able to access health care. The simple act of taking a child to a GP when they are sick is not something that we can do without.

Under the previous government, much of my time as a local member was spent with the many people in our community who were scared and frustrated by the lack of access to healthcare services that they were experiencing. With not enough doctors in our towns to look after the needs of our communities, people were desperate. Our GPs were doing the best they could, but they were overworked, tired and struggling to keep up. My constituents wanted to know what the coalition was doing to address healthcare services and the immense shortage of GPs which regional Australia is facing. It's not a level of medical care that we should accept in this country. I wrote time and time again to the former Liberal Minister for Health asking for urgent assistance for our region but got crickets in response. Meanwhile, every day people were being turned away from GP clinics simply because there were not enough doctors to care for them.

So I am proud to be part of a government that has finally taken action on the issue of healthcare access in regional areas. It's not simple and it is not something that will be fixed overnight, but we finally have a government that is actually caring and committed to doing something.

Prior to the election, I made a promise to our community, and Labor made a promise to the country, that if elected the government would increase the support for communities across the country where there is a GP shortfall. This initiative, coupled with Labor's plan to increase the number of urgent care clinics across our country, intends to particularly support those in rural and regional areas in their access to much-needed healthcare services.

Local practices, including those in our electorate, like in Wallan and Whittlesea, will now be able to recruit from a much bigger pool of doctors, because updating the distribution priority access areas will see more than 700 areas with either full or partial DPA classification. Because international medical graduates and overseas trained doctors are only able to access Medicare if they work in a DPA area, a DPA classification means that practices in DPA areas have access to more doctors who can work for our local communities. I was also pleased to learn that the minister is also looking at the way the Monash model is working and how things might be improved.

I'm proud to be standing in this chamber today as part of an Albanese Labor government that is delivering on its promises to our communities seriously and delivering on them now. It is so important for our rural and regional areas to have access to doctors and to have better health care because it means that we have better outcomes in the regions.