RURAL FOCUS: Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack (left) and Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd (right) with Shelfield Coffee Brewers' owner Pete Jeon during a visit to Emerald on Tuesday.
RURAL FOCUS: Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack (left) and Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd (right) with Shelfield Coffee Brewers' owner Pete Jeon during a visit to Emerald on Tuesday. Taylor Battersby

Health services' focus

WHEN a senior politician visited Emerald earlier this week, he had one major item on his agenda: rural health systems.

Accompanied by Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd, Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack said over $461 million of additional mental health services had been pledged in the last Federal Budget.

These services included, Mr McCormack said, 30 new headspace centres, such as the Emerald satellite service Mr O'Dowd announced earlier this year.

Mr McCormack said headspace centres made "such a difference” when it came to mental health services.

"It's one thing to be able to pick the phone up and get tele-health help - it's another thing to be able to go in and talk to somebody about your concern, your issue, or your loved one's concern or issue,” he said.

"Having that immediate prescence, that face to face, that friendly person who you can go and see or who you seek advice (from) for a loved one, that can be the difference between saving someone's life or not.”

Mr O'Dowd said roughly $500,000 had been pledged to Emerald's headspace centre, to be re-evaluated as needed.

"We'll look at it (the centre) and evaluate it as it goes - it might demand more money, it might be okay as it is,” he said.

"But we will continually monitor it and see if its going okay. There's a need for it and we've addressed it.”

Mr McCormack said the Federal Government was also working towards regionalising facilities to help ease the costs of health-related travel expenses.

"It's one thing to provide facilities in capital cities but as regional members, we want facilities available in regional areas,” he said.

"You shouldn't have to travel a day to get there or outlay the cost of a plane fare to get the help you need.

"We want these services, whether it's dialysis, whether it's mental health, MRIs - whatever the case may be - we want them to be available in the major regional centres but available also for people in the little outlying towns as well.

"We don't people to have to necessarily use the old adage, 'When in pain, catch the plane'. We want those services available first hand.”


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