A new health advocacy body has been formed within local government, hoping to make more noise with policy makers in Canberra and Sydney.
Edward River Council decided at its March meeting to set up its own health advocacy body, after the suggestion was put forward by Councilor Shirlee Burge.
Cr Burge said the committee would work with the handful of existing health groups such as the Deniliquin Local Health Advisory Committee under Murrumbidgee Local Health District and the Deniliquin Health Action Group – a community group made up of local staff and stakeholders – to adopt a unified and localized approach. advocacy approach.
“With the council’s punch behind it, I think (the committee) can make a lot more progress, and I think that was reiterated when Minister (Keith) Pitt said you need to be consistent in what you want and you present it,” Cr Burge said.
Mr Pitt, who is the Federal Water Minister, traveled to the area with Farrer MP Sussan Ley to make a funding announcement for Murray Irrigation Ltd, and met separately with Edward River councillors.
Cr Burge proposed an independent Murrumbidgee Local Health District Committee, which is run by the NSW Government through NSW Health.
“If we are dealing with, and with no disrespect to Murrumbidgee (local health district), they have their view of what we need and that is dictated to us by Wagga, not our own local area.”
MLHD administers a clinical service plan for Deniliquin Health Service – an overview of health needs for the district – which includes the study of current and future resource needs and consultation with the community.
With Cr Burge’s idea still in its infancy, chief executive Phil Stone said board staff had “done a bit of groundwork on what (a health defense committee) might look like”.
Unlike some council committees, its members are likely to be councilors only, rather than a mix of councilors and civilian stakeholders.
At its April meeting on Tuesday, the board will vote on the parameters, responsibilities and membership of the committee.
“We know this is an intention to facilitate dialogue between all other health committees, such as DHAG, LHAC and DMHAG (Deniliquin Mental Health Action Group),” Stone said.
“Each council is aware of not duplicating the work of other advocacy committees, but this is an opportunity to bring everyone together in one space and compare notes.”
Next steps to establish the committee include developing terms of reference and formalizing committee members.
Cr Burge has previously championed health issues for Deniliquin and her district, and made it one of her main platforms when she ran in local elections last year. She is also a member of the Deniliquin Health Action Group.