Four health service projects receive big boost

Media releases: 27 September 2018

$475,000 in grants to help local organisations address health care gaps

Bendigo, 27 September 2018: The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) today announced that four organisations will share in over $475,000 to implement vital health services in rural and regional communities in NSW and Victoria.

The Enhancing Country Health Outcomes (ECHO) program was established to provide grants for charitable initiatives that strengthen, improve accessibility and retain quality primary health care services in local communities. Distance and isolation place rural and regional communities at greater risk of poorer health outcomes and management. Basic health services, programs and equipment are vital to the sustainability of small communities. The funding for this program comes via Beyond Medical Education, which closed and transferred their funds to FRRR.

Demand for this new program was strong, with FRRR receiving 27 applications requesting nearly $3 million toward projects valued at $5.8 million. Acting CEO Sarah Matthee says that this shows the high level of need for improved access to health services across rural, regional and remote Australia.

“Through ECHO, we are supporting small communities to improve accessibility and implement sustainable, contextually appropriate responses to help the local residents live well in their communities. The four grants will support these organisations to up-skill the rural health workforce and implement innovative responses to provide a better service for clients,” said Ms Matthee.

Lynda Vamvoukis, a former CEO of Beyond Medical Education, said she was impressed by the applications received and that she is confident the four successful organisations will address the day-to-day health care needs in these small communities.

“No matter where you live, quality primary health services are vital in a community. This program provides support to ‘on the ground’, multidisciplinary and integrated projects that respond to specific primary health care issues within a local community,” said Ms Vamvoukis.

The following organisations will receive large-scale grants to implement locally led solutions:

  • NSW Outback Division of General Practice Ltd – $111,000 to re-establish an Occupational Therapist (OT) based in Bourke, NSW. The OT will be part of a multidisciplinary team, supporting the therapy services provided from clinical hubs in Bourke and the surrounding towns of Louth, Wanaaring, Enngonia, and Brewarrina. The OT service will provide one-to-one early intervention and support for children with delayed development, to ‘at risk’ groups such as adults with mobility issues, and enable people to access specialist and ongoing support services where available and appropriate.
  • Mallacoota Community Health, Infrastructure and Resilience Fund Inc. (CHIRF), in Victoria – $136,864 to support the development and implementation of additional health services through the local medical clinic. Services will include a general mental health program, Teen Clinic, piloting a nurse-led after-hours service, and maintaining the Dr Search workforce recruitment program. Funds will also support a Project Manager to develop these additional services.
  • Latrobe Community Health Service (LCHS), in Victoria – $125,200 to implement the ‘Telkaya Project – Very Brief Advice for behavioural change’, focusing on lifestyle changes around smoking, nutrition, alcohol and physical activity. LCHS will work with Gippsland Lake Health Service, Monash University Department of Rural Health and Ramahyuck Aboriginal District Corporation to develop an online training package and support materials to build the capability of LCHS and staff to integrate brief invention advice into routine primary health care services.
  • University of South Australia will receive $102,500 for Stage 2 of the Local Pain Educator (LPE) program. Conducted by Pain Revolution, this is a community-based health education initiative focuses on building the skills and capacity of local health professionals to support people living with chronic pain, reducing the reliance on strong opioids. With this grant, Local Pain Networks will be established across five regional areas surrounding Cooma, Nowra and Wagga Wagga in NSW, Albury-Wodonga NSW / Vic border and Warracknabeal, Vic.