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Thursday 23 January

THREE weeks after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews called Australia’s primary healthcare system “broken” and the Productivity Commission Report on Government Services revealed over half a million avoidable emergency department presentations in Victoria over the last year, Victoria’s registered independent community health services have come together at Parliament House as part of an initiative that aims to elevate the role of community health in our health system.

Community Health First brings together all 24 Victorian registered independent community health services to strengthen their relationships with the State Government and put forward a plan to help fix the health system crisis by strengthening and elevating the role of community health services.

Each year, more than 10,000 workers employed at Victoria’s registered independent community health services see over half a million Victorians resulting in millions of interactions, right across metropolitan, rural and regional Victoria.

Not only do services provide expert clinical care across general practice, mental health, oral health, and chronic disease prevention and management, they also deliver community outreach and leadership that keeps local communities safe, healthy and informed.

The vision for Australia’s broken public healthcare system outlined by the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce focuses on a patient centred approach, supported by an expansion of multidisciplinary care and increased accessibility to “equitable, affordable, person-centred primary care services”. The Taskforce has urged Governments to learn from local best practice, ensuring delivery of healthcare that responds to the needs of local communities and fosters ongoing relationships between patients and their care teams.

This is the very same model of care that is championed by Victoria’s community health services, but it is a model of care that is only found in Victoria and is often not part of conversations about how the current strain being felt by our healthcare system can be relieved.

With community health services at the centre of these discussions and the right resourcing, more Victorians across the state could enjoy access to a model of healthcare delivery that addresses the increasing pressures of cost-of-living, chronic illness, and access to primary care.

All 24 registered independent community health services enjoy an excellent working relationship with the Andrews Labor Government, and we applaud the Government for its stewardship and leadership both throughout the pandemic and now through advocacy for a strengthened national health system.

We look forward to working further with this Government to strengthen our community health services and ensure that Victorians can continue to access agile, responsive, high-quality care in their local communities that ultimately can help keep people out of hospitals and emergency departments

Quotes attributable to a Community Health First spokesperson:

“With their deep connections to community, clinical capabilities and range of health and social services, community health services are ideally placed to keep Victorians healthy and well, and out of hospitals.”

“Community health services provide a range of critical services including health promotion activity, chronic illness and disease prevention and treatment, mental health services, oral health, allied health, general practice and community outreach.”

“Importantly community health services reach members of the community that other parts of the health system don’t – including people experiencing homelessness, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and people with experiences of mental ill-health and addiction.”

“Our system of community health should be the envy of other jurisdictions and protected for generations to come.”

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