Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 February 2010) . . Page.. 465 ..
We looked into the West Belconnen Health Cooperative model, which has been very successful and has started operating now in Belconnen. We think that we can look at ways to provide assistance to other communities who might want to consider this sort of model. The model which has been used in Belconnen might not necessarily be the type of model they adopt but a model which looks at a cooperative approach to providing health care with information assistance to be provided to other groups. That can be as little or as much as a business case, which just helps them get that idea off the ground, because it is a very long process. We did visit the West Belconnen Health Cooperative after the committee process had gone through, but it was a very long process for them. It is just about expanding the knowledge of and providing a little bit of assistance to groups if they are interested in that sort of model.
I would also like to draw attention to recommendations 18 and 19. We heard from Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service about the work they do and that they do service a lot of clients from New South Wales. We have recommended that the government negotiate a cross-border agreement with the New South Wales government for the services provided by Winnunga because they are not currently being funded for that. They also see a lot of clients who are not Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders—because the service they provide is a holistic model, it is very attractive to a lot of people—and we need to recognise that and provide assistance to them.
Likewise, recommendation 19 is about funding them to enable the employment of at least one full-time GP position. We heard also that the GPs that go into services like Companion House and Winnunga are often older GPs, or doing it on a part-time basis, and it is very hard for these services to attract GPs or to replace a GP who may retire. We do need to recognise that and provide assistance to them. We need to recognise that a lot of people are visiting these health services because they cannot access a bulk-billing GP and also because these services are providing a holistic model which is attractive to them.
We have made a recommendation around the nurse practitioner walk-in clinic, something which I personally think is a wonderful innovation and hope is successful, asking that the government look into it, after 12 months of operation, to see whether it has been successful, and also to look at expanding this type of model to other areas. Nurse practitioner clinics in the UK have been very successful; people have visited them. There has often been a worry that people might not go to them because they do not understand what a nurse practitioner does, but the example in the UK shows that people will use them; people will change from the culture of going to a GP only.
So I too would like to commend the report to the Assembly and again thank the committee members and the committee secretary.
MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (11.58): Members will be aware I have only latterly joined the Standing Committee on Health, Community and Social Services after fairly recent changes to Assembly committee memberships. Unfortunately, I did not have the benefit of having been a member of the standing committee during the time when material was deliberated on, gathered, submitted and provided through the hearings during that long time that the committee was considering this matter.