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Fighting for Regional Healthcare

Fiona Phillips MP

One disaster after another is how you could view the last couple of years for people in the federal electorate of Gilmore on the NSW South Coast. Drought, bushfires, floods, ongoing bushfire recovery and the COVID-19 pandemic have taken an enormous toll on people, small businesses, workers, the elderly and vulnerable.

The prolonged impact of these disasters over years has been devastating.

But we’re a strong lot. We’re country, and we look after each other. Health will always be number one in the regions. It’s good health that lets us get on with life, whether it’s for family and work, or to travel, and to visit the kids and grandkids.

More than ever healthcare in the regions has been under attack by the Coalition governments.

We see it every day. It’s difficult to find a GP and our public hospitals are stretched to the max.

More recently, hundreds and hundreds of local people have contacted me and shared their personal stories about how they have found it difficult to access a local GP. Retiring GPs are just not being replaced, or GPs books are closed, or it just takes so long to get an appointment.

With the second highest number of aged pensioners in Australia, our elderly and vulnerable in particular are impacted. It is extremely difficult now to find GPs that will visit residents in nursing homes, not because they don’t want to, but because the system is broken. Labor proudly brought in Medicare, a universal health care system for all, but the Morrison Government continues to dismantle it and just doesn’t get regional Australia.

I have been working with a number of local GPs, and community members to highlight the growing problem of access to GPs in our regional area. I have been blown away by the response.

I have raised their real and raw stories in the Australian Parliament and will continue to advocate with people on this issue.

I am proud that Labor has initiated a Senate Inquiry into regional and rural GP shortages. This will provide further opportunity for people to share their stories and for the Committee to come up with positive recommendations to help improve access to GPs and health services in regional areas.

During all the disasters, our GPs and health workers have been there every step of the way, doing their absolute best to care for people’s health and mental health, and looking after our most vulnerable.

With the pandemic, our GPs, health workers and pharmacists have continued to work around the clock to vaccinate against COVID-19, test for COVID-19 and to keep people safe. Our health workers all deserve our thanks and support.

Make no mistake, the extended lockdowns in regional areas and across Australia that we have all lived through have been unnecessarily extended due to the Morrison government’s most fundamental failure of public administration to secure enough vaccines.

It’s beyond time for the Government to listen to the loud cries for help from our regions. Your postcode should never determine your access to basic medical services and quality of life.

Fiona Phillips is the Member for Gilmore.


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