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01 July 2020
A 12-month extension of State Government funding for a Rural Outreach Program across the region has prompted a call for a greater long-term commitment to the scheme.
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said the funding extension was a sensible decision but represented a temporary lifeline.
She said the $300,000 announcement by Mental Health Minister Martin Foley fell well short of providing certainty or direction for the program.
Ms Kealy, also Victorian’s Opposition shadow mental-health spokeswoman, went further and said the money ‘did not go anywhere near close enough’.
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“The Andrews Labor government is specialising in handing out temporary lifelines to critical services such as our Primary Care Partnerships – and now the Rural Outreach Program, which our PCPs co-ordinate,” she said.
“We need more certainty than just 12 months at a time for these important programs to enable them to plan for and provide the long-term support that our local communities need.”
Ms Kealy said Primary Care Partnerships in the past 20 years had played an integral community-support role during droughts, floods, bushfires and now in response to COVID-19.
“This is a perfect example of why we need their funding to continue beyond the State Government funding cut-off at the end of the year,” she said.
“Now, we have the situation where our fantastic rural outreach workers have been given funding certainty for only a short period of time.
“No-one can do what these services do for our local communities, and we can’t afford to lose them.
“The continued drip-feeding of funding by the government is only creating uncertainty and making their jobs harder.
“I have been proud to stand with our PCPs in the fight for ongoing security and will do everything I can to ensure local residents continue to have access to the vital services they provide.”
The entire July 1, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!