Page 524 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 16 February 2005

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As a result of lobbying by the ACT government, the Australian government extended its outer metropolitan GP incentive scheme in the ACT to include the areas of Belconnen, Gungahlin, Hall, Weston Creek, Stromlo and Tuggeranong. The outer metropolitan GP incentive scheme assists ACT doctors to recruit overseas-trained doctors and doctors from metropolitan areas to fill vacancies in their practices that they have otherwise been unable to fill. In order to derive the maximum possible benefit from the expansion of this scheme, late in 2003 and in February 2004 a national advertising campaign was undertaken, in conjunction with the ACT Division of General Practice and the ACT branch of the AMA, to inform GPs of the availability of the incentive scheme. The campaign successfully raised GP awareness of work opportunities in Canberra and the ACT Division of General Practice has received increased numbers of inquiries from GPs in response to this campaign.

The Australian government has also agreed to support a model for improved after-hours primary health care services to complement the ACT government’s funding support to the Canberra After-Hours Locum Medical Service. The service aims to enhance access to GPs in Canberra between the hours of 6pm and 6am. The ACT government has worked with local GPs to develop this model and continues to work towards implementation. The ACT government also shares the Charnwood community health committee’s concerns about the rate of bulk-billing in Canberra. On this issue, it is pleasing to note that the Australian government has now included the ACT in the increased Medicare plus bulk-billing incentives announced last year. The government is happy to support this motion to note the work of the Charnwood community health committee and to congratulate its endeavours to enhance the Charnwood community’s access to primary health care services.

Also, as minister for education, I would like to place on record how proud I am that Charnwood primary school has played a prominent role in this process. Like all schools, Charnwood primary realises that schools do much more than teach facts and figures. Schools take a holistic approach to the development of students as individuals and as members of society and play a vital role in building social cohesion, social responsibility and values. Schools are also uniquely positioned to assist children and young people, particularly those at risk, by linking families with each other and with services and support structures to improve the quality of their lives.

Charnwood primary school, as an active member of its local community, was well aware of the difficulties faced by families in accessing medical services. It is fantastic to see how the Charnwood primary staff, realising that the health and wellbeing of students and their families impact on students’ ability to learn and develop as active members of their community, worked with the school board and P&C to investigate ways in which the school could assist the wider community. The Charnwood community health committee meets at the Charnwood primary school. The school continues to play an active and dedicated role in the committee, particularly through the involvement of the principal and the P&C president.

The school and the committee have also been supported by the schools as community program under the Office of Children, Youth, and Family Support. Schools as community is a fantastic program of the previous government, one that should be recognised. It is an excellent program. It recognises that we can improve social and

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