Release date: Tue, 16th, Oct. 2018

Ballarat Community Health together with the Victorian Healthcare Association and community health services around the state have taken part in the ‘Stand with community health’ campaign, calling on all political parties to take action to leverage and support community health for the benefit of communities and the broader health system, in the lead up to the 2018 Victorian Election.

Accessible to all Victorians, community health services deliver primary health, human services and community-based support that meet local community needs including localised responses to social and health issues.

Enter Ballarat Community Health. One of 29 registered community health services across Victoria that deliver comprehensive ‘wrap-around’ health services to some of the state’s most disadvantaged people.

A participant who joined the Voices for Change program after being told about the program by his Alcohol and other Drugs (AoD) counsellor and had struggled with alcohol addiction (from age 27 – 64), was initiated and perpetuated by family and financial triggers leading to significant loss and grief, including income, occupation, home and marriage.

During the journey of alcohol addiction, the participant had two periods of abstinence which they could not sustain long term. In December 2017, they commenced on the AOD program at BCH and participated in the Voices for Change program in April, where they acquired new skills and knowledge that included:

• "realising what other people are going through"

• "feeling confident to speak in a group, large audience or one on one."

• "having more confidence and better self-esteem."

"The first steps to recovery is recognising the problem and accepting that fact. You need to get professional help and this might mean you need to talk first with a friend or family member or your doctor. Then, never giving up, even though there will be many setbacks and things won’t always go smoothly. Hope is a critical element in anyone’s journey to health and wellbeing", VFC Participant.

The campaign has received considerable political support including commitments from Nina Springle, Parliamentary Deputy Leader of the Victorian Greens and Fiona Patten leader of the Reason Party.

In addition, it has drawn wide attention and obtained widespread engagement on social media, with community health service staff and clients throughout the state showing their support.

Chief Executive of Ballarat Community Health, Robyn Reeves says that community health plays a crucial role in plugging gaps in the health system and keeping people out of overburdened hospital emergency departments.

‘With a highly skilled workforce, community health is well placed to release even more pressure from public hospitals.

‘Unfortunately, these opportunities have not been taken, and the platform is gradually being weakened by enforced competition and funding cuts, and now is the time to act and leverage this unique platform to the benefit of all Victorians,’ said Ms Reeves.

Community health provides crucial services to our communities including mental health programs, public dental, speech pathology, and access to general practitioners.

Ballarat Community Health is calling on local members of Parliament to pledge their support for a number of actions and use this opportunity to adequately support community health and reduce outpatient waitlists.

‘What we call for today is for politicians to pledge to support a number of very achievable actions such as investment in hospital diversion projects, a dedicated infrastructure fund and funding that keeps pace with an ever-increasing demand so these services can continue their important role in community,’ said Ms Reeves.

‘Government commitment to these ‘asks’ would enable community health services to provide an even stronger health safety net for vulnerable Victorians, such as those who are experiencing family violence and those who can’t get the help they need anywhere else.’

For campaign details and to make the pledge go to: Join the conversation on social media using: #standwithcommunityhealth


For more information contact: Lauren Wall, 0416 770 010