Page 523 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 16 February 2005

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This is a fantastic effort by the community and it is something we should be supporting. I am proud to be a patron of such an innovative and self-starting organisation. The work that its members have done will bear fruit and they will be a great example for other people who want to make improvements in their community. I commend Ms Porter for moving the motion. I congratulate and commend the Charnwood community health committee for their excellent work in this area and I wish it speedy success.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.23): The ACT Greens thoroughly support this initiative of the Charnwood community to find a way to address its health needs. The Greens are absolutely committed to the model of community health centres with salaried doctors who bulk-bill and with allied health services available. This appears to be the model that the Charnwood people are seeking for themselves. It is particularly commendable that they are considering offering dental services because there is no doubt that for people on a very low income without adequate subsidised dental services teeth are the first casualty. Of course, teeth are just the start in relation to health.

One of the things that I would like to see—and I did not actually notice it in Ms Porter’s motion—is a commitment by the government, when the community has finished its survey of health needs, to more than in-principle support of this initiative. That might mean help with the administrative structures of running such a centre and it might include help finding doctors. One of the biggest problems that we have, not only in Canberra, but also all around the country, is finding doctors who will commit to this kind of service in particular. This sort of service will require a particular kind of doctor, one who is able to work with the community, answering their needs. That will obviously require a broad range of skills among which would need to be people skills. So the Greens absolutely commend the Charnwood community health committee. We will support it in any way we can and we will certainly support it when it comes to asking the government for logistical or other support.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Children, Youth and Family Support, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations): (5.26): I rise to support Ms Porter’s motion and congratulate the residents and local businesses of Charnwood on this fantastic example of community spirit and initiative. As a member for Molonglo I am not involved with the Charnwood community health committee but I have listened to the members for Ginninderra and it certainly sounds like a very vibrant and engaged community organisation that is growing there. It is lovely to see the sorts of bipartisan connections that are being made.

Society is strengthened and progressed when government, the private sector and communities work together. The Charnwood community health committee is an example of these processes working at a local level. The committee’s work involved researching the primary health care needs of the Charnwood community and investigating community health care models that have been successful in other areas of Australia. The ACT government appreciates the committee’s concern about access to primary health care services. In particular, the government has been concerned about GP shortages in the ACT and is working to increase the number of GPs operating in Canberra. The shortages in the ACT are being accentuated by the retirement of a number of established GPs and their inability to attract replacement doctors to take over their practices.

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