VHA welcomes the Greens plan to stand with community health

November 14, 2018

The Victorian Healthcare Association has today welcomed the announcement by the Victorian Greens that they would advocate for a record $360 million boost to essential community health services following the extensive campaign by hundreds of Victorians calling on MPs to stand with community health.

The state-wide campaign, ‘Stand with community health’, is drawing support for community health and calls on the next Victorian government to adopt a series of ‘asks’, which the Victorian Greens adopted in their announcement today in an effort to lessen the strain on public hospitals and provide access to localised responses to health and social issues.

CEO of the VHA, Mr Tom Symondson, said Victoria’s community health services, which are unique in Australia, pride themselves on being accessible to all Victorians, including to some of the state’s most vulnerable and isolated people who may have nowhere else to turn.

‘Community health plays a crucial role of filling gaps left by the broader health system and bridge the gap between acute and primary care sectors, however, it has not received the attention it deserves from government and has been gradually weakened over recent decades by enforced competition and funding cuts.

‘The VHA congratulates the Greens on their plan to boost investment into community health in Victoria, including in areas of dental and infrastructure funding which have been eroded over a number of years. We welcome their leadership in this area which will enable these vital services to continue their important role in our communities,’ said Mr Symondson.

A key commitment of the Greens is a $4 million commitment to a pilot project to establish partnerships and treatment pathways between public hospitals and community health services so that people receive care in the most appropriate setting, and to help manage the ever-increasing demand placed on our public hospitals.

‘Partnerships between hospitals and community health services are based on relationships and initiatives of individuals, this needs to be fostered and strengthened to achieve greater outcomes. There are several examples of hospitals and community health working together across the state and these have resulted in people receiving care in a timelier manner and in the right setting.

‘Under our current model there is a lack of financial incentive to do this. These constraints are not in the best interests of Victorians and restrict services’ ability to be responsive and flexible in delivering timely access to care. That’s why a commitment to fund community health is so vital,’ said Mr Symondson.

The commitment made by the Victorian Greens is consistent with the VHA’s election positions towards community health including:

  • investment of $160 million to double the number of eligible people accessing public dental treatment
  • leverage of existing funds and provide a $200 million boost to community health infrastructure and services, targeting areas of greatest need
  • making community health services preferred suppliers for the Victorian Government. 

Earlier this year, the VHA, together with community health services around the state, launched the ‘Stand with community health’ campaign, calling on all political parties to take action to leverage and support community health for the benefit of communities and the broader health system.

Read the Victorian Greens announcement here.