Minister’s Statement

Last Wednesday I visited Bendigo Health along with the member for Bendigo West, Maree Edwards, to announce the rollout of our fully funded commitment to deliver an additional 500 000 specialist appointments across rural and regional Victoria. Too often regional Victorians are forced to travel long distances to get the specialist treatment that they need. Too often regional Victorians are paying expensive fees for seeing a private specialist. This year’s budget included $136.2 million over the next four years to reduce that burden by funding an additional 500 000 specialist appointments for rural and regional Victorian patients.

In Bendigo this financial year, patients will benefit from at least 15 000 additional appointments closer to home, without the need for inconvenient and costly trips to Melbourne. To achieve this, Bendigo Health are in the process of recruiting an additional 20 staff. These appointments will be provided across specialisations, including cardiology, geriatrics, paediatrics, podiatry, oncology, haematology, respiratory medicine and audiology, to name a few. Additionally, Barwon Health will be delivering an additional 15 000 appointments, Ballarat Health will deliver an additional 13 000 appointments, Albury Wodonga an additional 6000 appointments and Goulburn Valley Health an additional 14 000 appointments, to name just a few of the regional health services that will benefit from this additional funding.

This initiative will mean the world of difference to patients right across rural and regional Victoria—patients like Wendy, who I met whilst I was in Bendigo, who is getting additional support in her fight against cancer. Our government continues to invest in health services right across rural and regional Victoria to make sure that patients living in those communities can get the support that they need, particularly much closer to home.