Robinvale District Health Services Representatives Return from Parliament House Canberra

Mara Richards the CEO of the Robinvale District Health Service (RDHS) has just returned from Canberra after a visit there to highlight the impact of any funding changes to RDHS.


In the party that travelled to Canberra were, Peter Campisi, Chair of the Board of Management and Mara Richards, CEO of the Health Service from RDHS accompanied by Terry Elliot, Chair of the Mallee Track Health Services (MTHCS) and Lois O’Callaghan, CEO of MTHCS. Mara coined the group the “Mallee Assault.”

Mara said “We found Canberra very frosty (in temperature not our visitors!). Mind you the wind must be direct from Antarctica!”

The purpose of the visit was to relay a message to the Minister of Health, The Hon Greg Hunt MP, of the potential impact of any funding loss on our Primary Care workforce and the valuable care services they provide to our community! We also visited with the Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health, The Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, to discuss our indigenous community and the potential need at some stage for culturally sensitive care arrangements. The Minister for Small Business and who is responsible for the ABS Census, The Hon Michael McCormack MP, was our last visit where RDHS discussed the impact that the current form of census is not collecting the data that accurately reflects the actual demographics and population of our unique community.


Mr Andrew Broad MP, our Member for the Mallee, met with Mara some weeks ago where RDHS discussed with him  concerns for future funding. Andrew responded with very positive action in inviting both Peter Campisi our current Board Chair and Mara to Canberra to meet with the relevant Ministers.   Andrew later met with Lois and then extended the invitation to include Mallee Track. Andrew  hosted and attended each meeting in partnership with the group, commencing each meeting with an overview to the relevant Minister.

Mara reported that Andrew really went above and beyond and was the perfect host whilst in Canberra. She said, “We observed that Andrew (along with his staff on site Samantha and Tracy) worked very hard and long hours. Amazing stamina, but even more amazing at understanding our predicament with funding and not wishing for anything in his electorate to be any less than it is. I must say, on behalf of the group, that he is a well respected Member of the House of Representatives by all and worked hard on our behalf.”

The main issues raised were;

  • Funding issues, particularly with respect to our Primary Care services, that is, Allied Health staff (Physiotherapists, Podiatrists, Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Social Workers, Dietician, Allied Health Workers etc)
  • Our ABS Census data and how the results received did not match what was “reality on the ground.”
  • Aged Care beds specific to being culturally sensitive into the future.
  • GP shortage in town.
  • The difficulties of being an MPS (Multi Purpose Service) and having 2 providers of funds, that is, Commonwealth and State.


Mara has said that “Generally speaking we were very happy with the meetings we had especially with the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt. Mr Hunt took notes and requested that his staff schedule a meeting with us to seek solutions. This occurred via follow up teleconference on Friday 2 June upon my return to work with his senior Health staff, Andrew Broad, Lois O’Callaghan, the Murray PHN and a couple of other Commonwealth Department representatives. There was good information to follow up by the Commonwealth and they were now well briefed to work towards a solution. RDHS also received assurances that funding would continue as is, for this calendar year. On the matter of the ABS Census, the Minister advised us that he will discuss the issue further with his staff at the ABS and they will consider future options for the census that may overcome our particular issue of real numbers of people living in our community. RDHS offered formally to be a “pilot site” for any proposed changes to be trialled. The 2016 Census will be available as of 27 June 2017.”


A brief discussion with Andrew Broad the responses to our various issues are open until we find mutually satisfactory outcomes for our respective communities that we proudly represent! RDHS will continue to positively profile the community of Robinvale and surrounds to either the Commonwealth or State governments as and when required and at any opportunity!


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