CEO Primary Matters – 8 March 2023

Head to Health & headspace Colac Official Openings

Just under two weeks ago I had a very busy day with the official opening of two new mental health centres in our region on the same day: Head to Health Geelong and headspace Colac 

It was a very exciting day for the expansion of mental health services in the Western Victoria PHN region, and it was it was lovely to see everyone involved in seeing these two projects come to fruition in the flesh. 

Head to Health provides advice and a welcoming place for everyone who needs mental health and wellbeing support. It is available to all Victorians of all ages, regardless of whether their mental health issues are pre-existing or emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Geelong service, which is run by Neami National, now has a lovely new space at 8 Station Street, and will be a significant asset and support for the people of greater Geelong and western Victoria.  

The new headspace Colac, which is run by Barwon Health, offers a full range of support services for young people covering physical and sexual health, mental health, alcohol and other drugs, and vocational support. Since opening in late October last year, it has already had 170 young people use the service. Through the expansion of headspace services in our region, we are recognising that the future success of our communities relies on providing the right support for young people’s mental health as well as their physical health. 

A big thanks to everyone who has helped these two services come into operation.  

Royal Flying Doctors Service in Coopers Crossing… 

In case you missed it, Channel Nine News ran a wonderful story about the free patient-transport service that the Royal Flying Doctors Service is offering in Minyip. Minyip is famously the location where the TV series, The Flying Doctors, which was all about the RFDS was filmed, with the town of Minyip standing in as the fictional location of the central Australian town of ‘Coopers Crossing’. WVPHN is very proud of its part in collaborating with RFDS to provide this much needed service, which is staffed by volunteers, in rural locations. You can watch the segment here. 

Dr Jon Barrell Retires from Springs Medical

Everyone at Western Victoria PHN would like to wish Springs Medical’s Dr Jon Barrell the best of luck as he retires from full-time general practice and moves into life as a part-time GP and emergency medicine locum. In addition to 36 years working as a GP serving the Daylesford and Trentham region, Dr Barrell was a board member of WVPHN and has contributed greatly to our organisation. We wish him all the best in the next phase of his career. 

Vale Dr Ric Milner

Finally, it is with the deepest sadness that we learnt of the passing of one of our esteemed and respected colleagues Dr Ric Milner.   

Ric was in general practice for over 30 years and many of those years were spent practicing at the You Yangs Clinic just outside Geelong. He was a lecturer at Deakin University Medical School and an early educator of registrars.  He was the founder of Geelong Sexual Health Clinic and a member of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and RCGP’s Victorian GP of the Year in 2017. 

He was very passionate about general practice, palliative care, patient’s wishes and keeping people at home.  In the 1980s and ’90s he looked after many HIV patients, which brought him into palliative care work. He worked together with Dr Trevor Banks to set up palliative care services in Geelong. 

Ric’s association with WVPHN has been a long one.  He was a Board member with the GP Association (2009-2014), Barwon Medicare Local (2014-2016) and WVPHN (2016-2018).   

 He was also a member of the WVPHN Quality and Safety Committee 2016-2018.  Ric was also an active member of the Palliative Care SIG and presented several times at the Palliative Care Forum. 

We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife Dr Maria Lombardo and family members. 

Rowena Clift, WVPN CEO
8 March 2023

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