CEO Primary Matters – 7 February 2024

40 Years of Medicare 

Last week Western Victoria Primary Health Network (WVPHN) staff attended an event at the Ballarat Priority Primary Care Centre (PPCC) with the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King, UFS Pharmacies staff (UFS runs the clinic) and a past patient of the clinic, Shirley Toulmin.  

Minister King’s visit had two purposes: to mark the Ballarat PPCC becoming part of the Medicare Urgent Care Clinic network and to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Medicare. 

Minister King, who is the current Federal Member for Ballarat, also brought along John Mildren, who was the Labour Member for Ballarat between 1980 and 1990 (and who is now 91).  

Pictured above: Matt Dixon (Director First Nations, Public Health and Equity, WVPHN), Liz Hamilton (Senior Nurse Manager, UFS), Shirley Toulmin (past PPCC patient), Kerri Gordon (Head of Medical and Allied Health, UFS), John Mildren (Member for Ballarat 1980-90), Minister Catherine King (Member for Ballarat), Talei Deacon (Chief Operating Officer, Health Services, UFS).

It was fascinating to hear Mr Mildren speak about the pre-Medicare era, when families were often bankrupted because they were simply seeking medical care for their loved ones. In particular, he spoke about a woman who came to him in tears because her family earned $2 too much to receive government support for treatment that one of her children required.  

Both Mr Mildren and Minister King spoke about the huge battle the Hawke Government had to create Medicare, noting that in contrast with that time, today Medicare is widely accepted as a necessary and beloved institution by a large majority of Australians.  

While our model of universal health care has its problems at present, the event was a reminder that Medicare is still an incredible system and the envy of countries without universal health care. 

WVPHN Surveys 

In mid-February we’re planning to release two new surveys to assess the views of people working in general practice and allied health.  

The two region-wide surveys – What’s it like in General Practice? and What’s it like in Allied Health? – are part of our Primary Healthcare Insights project to pinpoint what’s useful and what may need improvement in the work we undertake, with aim of providing better support and training to health professionals in our region and, ultimately, better health outcomes. 

You can read more about the general practice and allied health surveys here, but I also wanted to mention that these surveys are in addition to the triennial Health Needs Assessment that we’re currently running (and finished at the end of this month), which aims to assess what health issues our communities are struggling with and what services may be missing or need improvement.  

We understand that all these surveys take time and thought to fill out, and that most health professionals are extremely busy, but we greatly appreciate any who does provide us with feedback – it’s vital for us to understand how we can improve our services and support.  

New Warrnambool Office for WVPHN 

While WVPHN remains a work-from-anywhere organisation, we’re delighted to announce that next week we’ll open a new office in Warrnambool. Located at 73 Kepler, the office is for Warrnambool staff who don’t want to work at home or need a place to hold meetings. The Warrnambool office joins our long-standing office in Geelong and more recent additions in Horsham and Ballarat. Please note visits to any of our offices are by appointment only. 

Andy Giddy, Acting CEO WVPHN
7 February 2024 

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