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Australian Greens - Meeting rural health needs

Media Release
Richard Di Natale 27 May 2016

Leader of the Australian Greens Senator Richard Di Natale has made a commitment to support the health needs of Australians living in rural areas. 

The Australian Greens call for the development of a National Rural Health Plan that will establish key areas of need for remote Australians, like an appropriate health workforce for the future, and develop strategies to improve health outcomes.

“Access to healthcare shouldn’t depend on your postcode. Australians living in rural areas have a right to have their health needs met,” Senator Di Natale said.

“People living in rural areas often have limited access to critical health services, including mental health,” Senator Di Natale said.

“We will invest $280 million for rural mental health, including providing for short term accommodation for patients and recruitment and training of mental health workers in rural areas.

“The freeze on the Medicare payments system – first introduced by Labor and extended again and again by the Coalition under Abbott and Turnbull has forced some rural and regional based doctors practices to the brink. They simply cannot afford to operate under the freeze and will be forced to either pass on the cost to their patients or close altogether.

“Both outcomes are disastrous for patients in the bush.

“The Australian Greens will end the freeze on Medicare and invest $2.4 billion into the Medical Benefits Scheme, so that patients can have access to bulk billing and doctors can remain open and provide better care people in rural areas.

“It is also critical that we support and sustain our rural based doctors, so that future generations of rural doctors have the training and equipment they need to keep rural Australians safe and healthy,” Senator Di Natale said.   

“Our commitment to restore $4 billion dollars of funding to the public hospital system will give confidence to patients in rural and regional Australia, that healthcare services will continue to operate,” Senator Di Natale said.

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