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Budget 2005: Rural families get better access to medical services.



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Take ten steps for the Territory, Ni

MEDIA RELEASE

Rural families get better access to medical services Tuesday, 10 May 2005

Senator for Northern Territory, Nigel Scullion, says families living in rural and remote parts of the Lingiari electorate will have improved access to medical services as a result of a Federal Budget initiative.

The Budget has allocated $5.0 million to the Rural Medical Infrastructure Fund in 2005-06. This is part of a three year commitment to provide $15 million to help rural councils establish medical clinics which doctors can walk straight into.

Senator Scullion said the fund will help rural and remote communities to attract doctors to their communities.

"Doctors can find it financially tough to set up and maintain practices and therefore they aren't always attracted to remote areas.

"The Rural Medical Infrastructure Fund will provide local government with the chance to set-up a clinic for a doctor. All the doctor then has to do is walk in and start seeing patients, knowing the equipment they need is there and the support they require is in place.

"This is an initiative that was developed after extensive consultation with medical professionals and local communities.

"It demonstrates the Howard Government's commitment to ensuring people in rural and remote areas receive access to basic medical services and continuity is provided when one doctor moves on and another arrives."

The Fund will be delivered through the Regional Partnerships Program and will provide individual grants of up to $200,000. Funding will be restricted to local councils in communities of less than 10,000 people.

Applicants will have to demonstrate: • A clear need for improved medical services in the targeted community; • A clearly defined and sustainable practice management approach; • Effective recruitment and retention strategies; • Strong community support, including support from key medical stakeholders; • A significant contribution to the project from local partners; and • That the project will not impact negatively on the viability of existing practices.