26 October 2022

Big budget infrastructure wins for Eurobodalla include health, emergency services and connectivity

| Katrina Condie
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Fitzroy and Mylene Boulting

One New L4 Regional Eurobodalla Hospital Advocates Group members Fitzroy and Mylene Boulting collected more than 5000 signatures on a petition calling for a radiotherapy unit within the proposed regional hospital at Moruya. Photo: Sally Foy.

Eurobodalla residents are celebrating, with funding for some big ticket items announced in the Federal Budget.

Health is the big winner, with the new Labor Government announcing $8 million for a Radiation Therapy Centre for the Eurobodalla to ensure cancer patients can access vital cancer treatment facilities close to home.

The commitment follows the delivery of a petition containing 5295 signatures to the State Government this month, calling for the service to be included in the proposed level four Eurobodalla Regional Hospital.

In another win, a Medicare Urgent Care Clinic for the Batemans Bay region will provide access to bulk billed urgent medical care without having to wait hours at over-burdened hospital emergency departments.

Federal Member for Gilmore Fiona Phillips says she has “continued to fight for a radiation therapy centre for the Eurobodalla region” since before she was elected.

“I have never lost sight of the immense pain that cancer patients and their families undergo as they are forced to travel long distances for treatment that they should never have to do,” Ms Phillips added.

READ ALSO Eurobodalla hospital consultation claims untrue, advocates say

Ms Phillips said the South Coast community was “struggling with a full-blown healthcare crisis”.

“Local people deserve to be able to access the same quality health services that those in the city do,” she said.

“People are finding it harder and harder to see a GP, access emergency care, maternity, neo-natal and paediatric health services, and their already strained household budgets are being hit by the rising out of pocket cost to see a GP.”

The Medicare clinic will take the pressure off hospital emergency departments by providing an alternative, bulk-billed option for families needing urgent care from a doctor or nurse.

The Black Summer bushfires highlighted the need for a purpose-built emergency operations centre and Ms Phillips announced $5 million towards establishing the facility which will help local emergency services personnel plan for and respond to disasters more efficiently.

She said the Emergency Operations Precinct at Moruya would ensure the community was better prepared and protected from future bushfire and flood risks.

“After the bushfires, I vowed to do everything possible to ensure we were better prepared for any future disasters we may face,” Ms Phillips added.

“Since then, I have worked closely with the Minister for Emergency Management to shape many of our national policies on disaster management thanks to the input of so many local people and organisations.

“Our Disaster Ready Fund detailed in the budget is a direct result of this work and the advocacy of our community.”

In announcing funds for phone blackspots and nbn connectivity, Ms Phillips said the bushfires also highlighted the dangers in “our second-rate telecommunications infrastructure”.

“Reliable mobile coverage and internet is vital for our quality of life, productivity and safety,” she said.

“Our connectivity plan for Gilmore will benefit over 45,000 homes and businesses, as well as commuters on the Princes Highway.”

READ ALSO Region’s nurses pressure government over staffing ratios

Funding includes $971,000 for fireproof telecommunications for the South Durras community and the Mt Wandera transmission station.

A community battery for Maloneys Beach will provide access to renewable energy, cheaper electricity bills and greater energy security during fires and floods.

Ms Phillips said, in the thick of the fires, communities along the South Coast like Maloneys Beach, had power outages leaving them without essential appliances and communication lines to find out the latest news in a fast-changing and dangerous environment.

Community batteries are a way to not only build energy resilience when power goes down, but also help households cut their power bills and emissions.

The budget will also provide $24 million for structural adjustment and transition in the South East Trawl Fishery.

Ms Phillips said she was excited by the budget and the announcements around cheaper childcare, paid parental leave, cheaper medicines and affordable and social housing, which she described as “a massive issue around our region”.

She said the Albanese Labor Government’s budget honoured “commitments made at the election” while it recognised “the challenges facing the economy and the budget”.

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