Tuesday 1 Oct 2018: The remote towns of Mallacoota, Gypsy Point, Genoa and Cann River, Far East Gippsland, Victoria are celebrating receiving $136,864 to support the development and implementation of additional health services through Mallacoota’s local G.P. medical clinic led by Dr Sara Renwick-Lau.
As part of its Enhancing Country Health Outcomes (ECHO) grant program, the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) awarded Mallacoota Community Health, Infrastructure and Resilience Fund Inc. (CHIRF) a major grant.
This will be deployed to
- improving mental health services including a pilot teen clinic,
- continue its nationally acclaimed Dr Search initiative
- professionalising its administration .
CHIRF was established by local volunteers two years ago to find ways to ensure medical services in Mallacoota survive.
“It’s a shot in the arm for the health care for the very remote Mallacoota and neighbouring, Cann River, Genoa and Gypsy Point, CHIRF’s Secretary, Robin Bryant said.
“We are more than grateful for the grant. To have a major forward thinking philanthropic charity recognise our work and see an innovative way forward to assist a remote community grow, and support our drive for a local project manager, is a significant article of faith.”
Thanks to community initiative and now FRRR funding, rather than struggling to maintain essential health services, we can work towards filling many of our District’s primary health care gaps” Mallacoota’s long term
General Practitioner Dr Sara Renwick-Lau said.
The CHIRF charity had been engaging with various State and Federal agencies including the Gippsland Primary Health Network (GPHN) on chronic gaps in primary health care in and around the Mallacoota district. CHIRF’s iconic Dr Search actively travelled Australia searching for Doctors.
GPHN helped CHIRF attract a third GP with a small though significant grant.
CHIRF is now in the latter stages of bidding for GPHN grants to support a nurse-driven after-hours’ service and an innovative mental health initiative.
Mental health services are one of the major shortcomings in remote and rural towns. If successful, GPHN grants will complement the FRRR grant to support remote access for psychology services.
“Through our existing suppliers, we aim to provide an innovative approach to key primary health needs in the Mallacoota district,” Bryant said.
“Apart from lobbying, applying for grants and travelling to Conferences we have built bridges with distant communities in Bega and Albury. Whilst securing doctors, we have been working to address mental health
issues, and ultimately after-hours care,” he added.
In addition to the hard-working local volunteers, SBM Stavros Accountants and Business Advisers and the Remote Vocational Training Scheme(RVTS) in Albury with Bega Valley Medical Clinic assisted with support on
systems, training, mentoring and helping to progress the set-up of our very first Teen Clinic, Bryant said.
The project aims to strengthen local General Practice services and enable local solutions to critical chronic disease and health service delivery gaps by increasing the capacity of the Mallacoota community and nearby
towns to sustain their health services.
A key part of the grant is to employ a CHIRF Support Manager. This will make seeking solutions to these problems more efficient and more successful, and remove significant pressure from volunteers and the
CHIRF is now seeking expressions of interest from people in the region for this Administrative Support Role.
The grants will be managed by CHIRF and provided through Mallacoota’s Medical Centre.
HOW THE GRANT WILL RAMP UP THE DISTRICT’S HEALTH CARE
This project funding will build on community achievements, to support a further two years of goal oriented work. This will be achieved through the employment of a Manager to sustain the work of current community
The provision of a regularly available, known psychologist for a face to face service as part of the grant ensures some 120 patients per year who were accessing the previous psychology service would again be provided with
access (Mallacoota Medical Centre ATAPs data 2016). The previous service was cancelled in 2016 in favour of Telehealth.
The Teen Clinic model pioneered by the Bega Valley Medical Clinic will offer adolescents in the district Mallacoota access to general and mental health care. The service will be extended to Cann River as funds become available.
The project will fund administrative support for the development of a co-ordinated local mental health service model, as well as provide seed-funding for direct service provision. These will enable a psychologist to travel to Mallacoota monthly to provide mental health care.
This collaborative model will ensure that funded programs such as the PHN ATAPs will be utilised to provide a seamless telehealth and face to face psychology service co-ordinated locally, at minimal to no patient cost.
After-hours medical care in Mallacoota, currently is some two hour’s drive away along a remote highway.
Funding a nurse-led after-hours service, supported by local GPs will ensure safe, sustainable and cost-effective access for all Mallacoota residents and visitors to 24/7 medical care.
Ph: 0417 271 852
Dr Sara Renwick-Lau: Mallacoota Medical Centre 03 5158 0777