Access to quality health care is important to all Western Australians, and equally so for people living in regional areas.
It is vital people have access to health services – ranging from nursing posts in remote areas, to a doctor in a regional town, to specialists in major regional centres. Health incorporates aged care, mental health care, allied health services such as physiotherapy and speech therapy, dental services and general medical services.
Regional people deserve to be able to access general health services without the need to travel long distances. Where the need for higher-level treatment is required, this should be available in our major regional cities. Of course, there will always be the need to access specialists in the metropolitan area, and regional people should be supported in these stressful times through travel and accommodation subsidies. In the case of medical emergencies, the Royal Flying Doctor is a vital service for regional and remote people who need transportation for critical hospital care.
The Nationals WA want to make sure there are more doctors in regional WA, not just in Perth. We want to make sure patients needing to travel for specialist care are supported through a revamped Patient Assisted Travel Scheme, and we want to see TeleHealth used to a greater degree for both emergency situations as well as consults and follow up appointments.
The Nationals WA advocate for the appointment of a State Rural Health Commissioner to focus on greater efficiency and better outcomes in regional health. This office will support and inform the work of WA Country Health, Rural Health West, St John’s, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Rural Clinical Schools and Silver Chain.
There should never be any stigma associated with mental illness, and people in need should have access to appropriate support, understanding and treatment.
The Nationals WA believe in funding community programs to promote mental health and well-being, initiate early intervention strategies, and ensure there are affordable treatment options. These should be available to all people across Western Australia with regional areas adequately resourced.
Youth mental health programs have shown success in educating young people on how to support others, as well as identifying those at risk through early intervention programs and then more targeted strategies.
Drugs and Alcohol
The use of illicit drugs in our society is causing a range of issues for users, their families and the community.
The Nationals WA support rehabilitation centres to assist people recover from alcohol abuse and/or drug use. Well-resourced intensive programs with follow up counselling for users and affected family members will provide the best long term outcomes for families.
Drug and alcohol education programs should be mandatory in schools to ensure students are aware of the health risks associated with use.
People living with a disability need appropriate services and support structures so they can live with dignity and reach their full potential.
A one-size approach to service delivery does not work for individuals living in regional areas, so a higher degree of flexibility is required. The Nationals WA believe individuals and families living with disabilities should be involved in making decisions that best suit their circumstances.
With the introduction of the NDIS and the Federal Government taking responsibility for disability services, the Nationals WA believe the State Government needs to ensure individuals are supported, and effective agency services are in place to clearly identify and robustly address service gaps.
Seniors and Aged Care
Enabling our senior citizens to stay in their community, close to family and friends is important to the Nationals WA. We believe people should be supported to stay in their own home for as long as possible with appropriate in-home support.
Regional WA has an older population demographic than the metropolitan area. Over the next decade the number of people in regional WA aged over 70 is expected to double. This means there needs to be sufficient retirement units and aged care facilities in regional communities so families are able to maintain close contact.
The benefits of keeping older people in their communities include:
- General improvement in the wellbeing of senior residents by enabling them to stay where they have lived their whole life and maintain social connections
- Seniors continuing to spend their money in the local community
- Continued engagement of seniors in volunteering and unpaid community work
- Employment opportunities in aged care, health care and services sectors.
Our Health spokesperson is Martin Aldridge, he can be contacted here.