Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed says immediate action is required to close the health gap between country and city communities.
In Parliament this week, Ms Sheed used the second of her two Grievance Debates to raise the disproportionate disadvantage experienced by regional and rural communities when it comes to access to health services and health outcomes.
“Grievance Debates give Members of Parliament the opportunity to raise serious issues that are fundamental to the wellbeing of our communities and I couldn’t let this opportunity pass by without reminding the Government of how far regional and rural communities are behind their city counterparts in terms of health,” Ms Sheed said.
“It is often thought that people in the country have a higher level of life satisfaction associated with a stronger sense of community and connection, but the research tells a very different story.
“It is shocking to read the statistics that say the rate of suicide for people who live outside our major capital cities is two-thirds higher than the rest of the population, that for every dollar spent on Medicare mental health services in major cities only 77 cents is spent in inner regional areas such as Shepparton and that our communities experience higher death rates from manageable chronic diseases.”
Ms Sheed said while it was pleasing to see the long overdue development of Goulburn Valley Health hospital now well underway, more needed to be done to help bring access to health services in the Shepparton District to an acceptable level.
“We’ve been talking about the need for radiotherapy services in Shepparton for such a long time and as time passes that need only increases,” Ms Sheed said.
“People have told me their experiences of being so ill they have had to lay on the back seat of the car as they travelled hours to access treatment and then travel home again the same day.
“Of course longer distances will always be somewhat of a challenge for those of us who live outside the major cities, but people deserve to be treated in their own communities where possible and in 2018 there are so many ways this should be able to be achieved.”
Ms Sheed also renewed her calls for the creation of a residential mother-baby unit in the region and praised staff at local community health organisations, and the Shepparton District community more broadly, for their ongoing resourcefulness and commitment to the region with the services they are able to provide.
Ms Sheed’s speech can be viewed here:
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