More support needed for Victoria’s community health services

January 20, 2023

An alliance of Victoria’s independent community health services is calling on the government to recognise the important role community health services play in keeping Victorians healthy and out of hospital.

Launched today, the Community Health First campaign is seeking recognition of community health services as an integral part of the Victorian health system and funding to help them prevent avoidable presentations in our overstretched emergency departments.

‘With increasing demand for acute services, health funding needs to encourage greater care in the community – so that urgent care is available to those that need it,’ VHA CEO Leigh Clarke said.

‘Keeping Victorians healthy and out of hospital will lead to benefits in the long term – and community health services are well placed to provide this care.’

The community health sector is a uniquely Victorian asset, delivering a range of services across the state. While there are two types of community health services – not-for-profit organisations that are independent of hospitals and those that are aligned with public health services – they all have a deep knowledge of their local communities and provide tailored, integrated care in settings that are familiar, welcoming and accessible.

The VHA is advocating for all community health services to be formally recognised as the preferred delivery partner of preventive healthcare in Victoria, and to have representation on the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce.

In alignment with the Community Health First campaign’s calls for action, the VHA and Victorian Council of Social Service pushed for recognition and an expansion of the role of community health services to reduce avoidable hospital admissions during the 2022 state election campaign. The VHA also publicly called for community health services to receive more funding that would exceed the rate of inflation over four years.

The VHA will continue to advocate on behalf of the community health sector for increased recognition and funding in 2023 and beyond.

‘Community health services can help to relieve health system pressures and reduce health expenditure by providing care in the community,’ Ms Clarke said.

‘Each year there are hundreds of thousands of Victorians that go to hospital that don’t need to.’

‘By adequately funding community health services to deliver prevention and health promotion programs and early intervention services, the government will be helping people to manage chronic diseases at home and preventing illnesses from escalating to a point where hospital care is required.’