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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 25 February 2010) . . Page.. 781 ..

was a great opportunity to make change in this area and it is disappointing that this did not happen. Preventative health is an important and key factor in the overall health of our community in order to halt the onset of chronic illness and address symptoms of illness at an early stage and an early age, before they reach a crisis level.

This is particularly important with mental heath, which I will talk more about later, as the mental health system is very much crisis focused and funding has not kept pace with need. I note that Mr Hanson’s quote from Professor Patrick McGorry, in the introduction to his health report, is in reference to the mental health system, as this is Professor Patrick McGorry’s area of speciality.

With regard to primary healthcare and reports that have been made into this, I am proud of the report which the health committee recently delivered into primary healthcare, and I have to say that does provide a very thorough and detailed report of the issues around primary healthcare. I did refer to some of the recommendations that were made when the report was tabled, but I will just refer to a couple of them again, particularly around the alternative models of primary healthcare, because we are very much focused on GPs when we talk about this issue, and GPs are extremely important because they are the first point of access for most people to the healthcare system. But, as this inquiry showed, there are alternative models we can look at. Very good examples are Companion House and Winnunga Nimmityjah health service. They do very much look at that holistic, integrated type of healthcare, and I think we do need to start looking at alternative areas like this because they are successful and they do work for people. Yes, these services target specific populations, but they are relevant to other areas in the community and would be appropriate for those people.

Also, nurse practitioners: it is good that we have a trial which will be starting on this and that the primary health report recommended that 12 months after its operation it be examined and that we look at establishing similar clinics in other areas. Again, this is a very important way to look at alternatives we can offer. And, if we look to the UK, where nurse practitioners have delivered healthcare, that has been successful and people have gone to them. Often it has been said that people will not go and visit them because they do not know what they do. But I think the example in the UK shows that they do work.

Another issue that arose through the committee investigations that raises particular interest for me is how we can better enable community health services by providing them with the ability to engage salaried general practitioners. I am also keen to see how we can progress and assist other communities to establish GP cooperatives, including the GPs for Tuggeranong campaign, and achieve success similar to that of the West Belconnen Health Cooperative. Again, there was a recommendation in the report around this, about providing assistance so we can help these sorts of ideas get off the ground. It does not necessarily have to be the model that Belconnen used, but something like that, by providing a business case to just help them get going.

I would also like to see the community receive better information about what access points for healthcare needs there are, including GPs, allied health professionals and pharmacists. As we grow those alternative points of entry, we need to encourage people to use them.

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