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Immunisation bus: just fund it, Mr Thwaites.



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IMMUNISATION BUS...Just Fund It, Mr Thwaites

29 August, 2000

The State Government's failure to restore long-term funding to the Shire of Yarra Ranges' Immunisation Bus has been described by local Federal and State MPs as, "Bad news for the entire community and a clear failure to meet the health needs of people living in the Yarra Valley".

Following the State Government's decision to cut funding to the Yarra Ranges' Immunisation Bus earlier this year, Local MPs launched a campaign with the assistance of the community calling on John Thwaites to restore funding to the Bus.

Federal MP, Dr Michael Wooldridge said that, "The immunisation bus has served the Yarra Ranges community very well during the last two years.

"It has been a vital part of the partnership between the community and all levels of government to lift the levels of immunisation, something which the entire community would accept as vitally important.

"I welcome the decision to fund the Bus for the next six months, but I'm concerned about what happens then," Dr Wooldridge said.

The decision to temporarily fund the bus was announced in writing to Andrew Olexander, the State Member for Silvan Province.

"I was relieved when I read in the Minister's answer to my question in Parliament that the State Government had agreed to extend the program for a further six months.

"But I am angry that the commitment had to come after significant pressure had been applied by local members in the Yarra Valley," Mr Olexander said.

Christine Fyffe, State MP for Evelyn supported Dr Wooldridge's comments, stating that during one visit to Chirnside Park Shopping Centre the Bus facilitated the immunisation of over 400 people.

"Many of these people were senior members of the community receiving their free flu vaccination in time for Winter," Mrs Fyffe said.

John Thwaites refusal to make a long-term commitment does not make sense given it provides such a valuable and important service, Wendy Smith, the member for Silvan Province said in response to the decision.

MP for Mooroolbark, Lorraine Elliott believes that the State should not lessen their commitment to protecting the community against vaccine-preventable diseases and undermine the community's

achievements on immunisation.

"It has to be a partnership.

"We all share the community's commitment to immunisation, but John Thwaites is letting us down," Mrs Elliott said.

The Member for Monbulk, Stephen McArthur said that the Bus was important, not just for the immunisations it performed, but also because it raised public awareness of the issue.

"It is much more than just an immunisation bus, it also raises community awareness about the importance of protecting people from vaccine-preventable diseases," Mr McArthur said.

Dr Wooldridge said that the number of children in our community who were immunised against measles was lower than many third world countries.

"By working together almost 100 per cent of our children are now protected against measles.

"Everyone would acknowledge this as a great achievement, but there is no room for complacency. The numbers could drop just as quickly and I simply can't understand why the State Government is refusing to make a commitment on this important public health issue.

"The Federal Government has made a significant commitment on this issue, just last week I announced that $20 million will go towards providing 18-30 year olds with the Measles vaccine.

"We need the State Government to work with us on this. I ask that they reconsider their decision and commit real, long-term funding to this valuable community asset," Dr Wooldridge said.

 

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