Earlier this month I was delighted to see the first sod turned by the Minister for Health for stage 1 of the redevelopment of Goulburn Valley Health in Shepparton.
This marked both the success of our community in advocating for a much-needed new hospital and the acknowledgement by this government that Shepparton district deserves better than the status quo.
We have now embarked on a three-year construction journey, and work has commenced on planning for the second stage of what will be a major state-of-the-art regional hospital.
My electorate is crying out for a cancer centre. Our demographic supports that call, as do the statistics, which put regional and rural Australians at a much higher risk of developing cancer compared to their city counterparts. It is unacceptable that patients are being forced to travel long distances to Bendigo, Albury or Melbourne to seek treatment. It is a burden that should not be placed on people when they are sick. Our community health centre in Corio Street needs extending to provide a hub for allied health services and to ensure easy access for the community.
Our families also need a mother-baby unit with residential facilities, and our community has been calling for this for a very long time. As we work on a plan to transform education in the Shepparton district we are well aware that the most critical time in a child’s life is the early years, and we are very keen to ensure that the necessary services from conception through to pathways to a career are available.
The last time our hospital’s ceremonial shovel was used was more than 20 years ago, so it was very pleasing to see the Minister for Health using it again to mark the beginning of site works at Goulburn Valley Health. I feel confident we will not have to wait so long again.