I rise to make comment on the Western District Health Service annual report for 2009. It has been an absolute pleasure to read the report to Parliament because this service is a leader in providing health services to the local community. It is a leader in community access and the quality of care it provides. During the reporting period I had the pleasure of visiting the health service on a number of occasions. One time it was to have a look at the facilities around Coleraine. Of course that was a lobbying exercise. I was pleased to see the results of that in the recent state budget. I also attended Coleraine in August 2008 and was part of the unveiling of the new Coleraine independent living units. I did that with Ms Noelle McComb, the niece of M. B. Wishart, whose bequest contributed to the funding of that project.
One of the other significant elements of the service is the partnership that it has with Deakin University. That partnership brought about the establishment of the National Centre for Farmers Health in Hamilton. The centre conducts university research and service delivery and education and provides national leadership to improve the health and wellbeing of farmers, farm workers and their families across Australia. The centre evolved out of the Sustainable Farm Families program, which I will mention later. The centre was made possible through the financial contributions of the Helen and Geoff Handbury trust and the Victorian government’s Future Farming strategy. During the reporting period the Sustainable Farming Families program began under the Brumby government’s $205 million Future Farming strategy. This continued support is for the physical and mental health and wellbeing of farmers and their families. This program runs workshops and focuses on practical steps to improve the lives of farming families. It also made a number of presentations to conferences in Canada during the reporting period and continued to roll out a number of programs. It continued to take a leading role in farmers’ health in a range of workshops and took on an advocacy role in a range of forums. In relation to the Rural and Regional Committee’s current inquiry into rural and regional disadvantage, which I am involved in, Sue Brumby provided an exemplary presentation to that committee in Portland a couple of months ago.
During the reporting period the service was also awarded the Premier’s Primary Health Service of the Year award, which recognises leadership and excellence in the delivery of programs, focusing on health, wellbeing and safety. It also recognises innovative programs, including Sustainable Farming Families, women’s, men’s and youth health as well as community transport, to name a few.
It provides outstanding community support, and that is well documented in the report in terms of the voluntary basis that underpins the support of the service. Of course it also plays a lead role in building sustainable partnerships, sharing knowledge, expertise and rolling out programs to other partners.
During the reporting period it also saw the reaccreditation of the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards for a further four years and the Coleraine campus of aged-care service for a further three years. It also received a significant award from the Minister for Health in respect of its community transport service as well as receiving $25.8 million for the redevelopment of the Coleraine Hospital, which I mentioned at the beginning of my statement. That will lead to the redevelopment of 10 acute beds and 27 residential beds in the primary care and emergency service area in the new purpose-built facility co-located with the refurbished Mackie Court.
A new medical, allied health and dental centre will be constructed on the land adjacent to the new development. Congratulations to Jim Fletcher, the CEO, and Mary-Ann Brown, the board president. I thank all other board members, staff and volunteers of this wonderful service.