Community health push for better funding model
The North Central Review
6 March 2023
Nexus Primary Health was among 24 health services to launch a cohesive advocacy initiative for greater funding and acknowledgement in state parliament last month.
The health services launched the Community Health First Initiative at parliament, campaigning for more secure funding to deliver services and provide employment
Health services from metropolitan, rural and regional areas have formed a steering committee, which met with Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas on February 23.
Ms Thomas has committed to regularly meet with the steering committee in the future.
The body features several leading healthcare voices, including parliamentary secretary for health infrastructure Tim Richardson and Dr Norman Swan, who highlighted the collaboration of community health services and their ability to perform exceptional clinical care while addressing the social determinants of health.
Nexus Primary Health chief executive officer Amanda Mullins said the launch was a stepping stone for the health service, and an opportunity to speak to fellow health chief executives, board members, and parliamentarians on the cost of delivering services and employment issues.
“That’s exactly the response and the engagement that we’re looking for – we don’t expect an overnight response, but we want to be considered and we want to engage with the department when decisions are made around health and health funding,” she said.
“It was just a meet and greet and a presentation by consumers, lived-experienced support workers and other community leaders, so we didn’t have a significant role but we’re very proud to be part of the alliance for better community health engagement.
“Dr Swan did quite an extensive take on community health, which was great, and we had some individuals who are consumers of different services across Victoria.”
Ms Mullins said the meeting was an opportunity to showcase Nexus’ services, specifically through COVID-19 when it was able to provide testing and vaccination clinics until March this year.
“It was a really great showcase about services that we deliver that make sure or help us to ensure that people receive place-based care [so] they don’t have to travel to the hospital,” she said.
“There was lots of talk around locally based services and activities that community health undertake that is different to the acute sector because we can be agile and responsive.
“COVID was a really great example of that – we could step up testing and vaccination clinics right throughout COVID and maintained those … that’s huge that’ve been able to make space for that.”
After the impact of COVID-19, and a cessation of some government funding, Ms Mullins said the intiative was the start of strong advocacy for better health care across the Mitchell, Strathbogie and Murrindindi shires to strengthen the community’s future.
“That was just the launch of the initiative. As an alliance, we will continue to work with our local members, but also our local departments, around funding for better community health initiative,” she said.
“We’re putting together the Nexus organisational strategy at the moment for the next three years … greater funding would allow us to enhance our workforce and provide more of the services that we do currently.”