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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2021) . . Page.. 1989 ..

centres, some of Canberra’s best schools and a world-class university, a vibrant arts scene including live music venues and the Belco arts centre and, most importantly, a community of people who are proud to call Belco their home.

I am privileged to have lived in Belconnen for the last 24 years with my family, and I could not think of a better place to have raised my family. In celebration of Belconnen’s 55th birthday, the Belco arts centre has an exhibition running until this Sunday, displaying photographs of Belconnen from the past 55 years. I encourage you all to get along and see it.

Finally, I acknowledge Mr Brian Rhynehart whose extensive research on the history of Belconnen I have drawn on heavily to put together these brief remarks. Thank you, Mr Rhynehart.

In closing I quote a friend of mine who is a Ginninderra constituent and avid Belconnen advocate: “Belconnen is the centre of the universe. Others may differ in their opinion.” I back this up by saying: may it stay that way. I further add: let’s make Belconnen clean, green and beautiful—even more so than it already is. I ask all residents to join me in wishing Belconnen a very happy birthday, and here’s to making it an even better place to live for the next 55 years.

Health—National Health Co-op

MS CLAY (Ginninderra) (4.39): I would like to speak briefly about the National Health Co-Op which has been providing essential and affordable services to the residents of west Belconnen for over a decade now. It was heartbreaking to see the Charnwood clinic announce its closure in July last year and then to see the co-op as a whole go into voluntary administration last Monday. The National Health Co-op began as a community-led idea in 2004 by a group of Charnwood residents. Canberra has very few bulk-billing GPs compared to other capital cities, and for many people a bulk-billed service is the only one they can afford. I have heard from countless community members who have to choose between the groceries that week and a check-up, dental or physio appointment.

These Charnwood residents decided they would take matters into their own hands regarding the lack of bulk-billing GPs in west Belconnen. In 2006 they formed the West Belconnen Health Co-operative as a not-for-profit, member-owned service. After lobbying, they received $220,000 in funding from the ACT and federal governments in 2010. For an affordable annual fee of $90 or $110 for a family like mine, members could receive unlimited bulk-billed consultations. The co-op quickly grew to cover more areas than just west Belconnen, partnering with other not-for-profits. They provide access not just to GPs but to allied health professionals like psychologists, dietitians and physiotherapists.

In 2014 they updated the name to the National Health Co-op to reflect their wider membership base, showing that they had expanded well beyond that first Charnwood clinic. They set up eight clinics across all corners of Belconnen as well as central Canberra, Molonglo and Tuggeranong. The co-op employs 90 medical staff across those clinics and has 32,000 members. It has become a lifeline for many vulnerable members of our community who need local, affordable health care.

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