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Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Page: 12564


Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (19:05): Today I rise to speak about the wide range of health reforms the Gillard government has delivered in Parramatta. Since Labor gained government in 2007 it has been committed to the continued improvement in the delivery of health services. This has included a $36.2 million investment through national health reforms over the next four years for Western Sydney, with Westmead Hospital in my electorate receiving a lion's share. Part of this money will be spent on: 15 new beds at the Children's Hospital at Westmead; 45 more beds for Westmead Hospital, plus new emergency department resuscitation bays and new anaesthetic machines, monitors and operating theatre tables; $1.3 million to expand the number of emergency department resuscitation bays; and a whole array of specialist electronic equipment including three new ECMO machines and $1.3 million for the angiography suite.

We have provided new licences for two local MRI machines, allowing use of the machines to be claimed under Medicare. We have delivered a multitude of specialist training places, including places for 44 new GPs and specialists in training across Western Sydney, with half of these places in Parramatta. We have also delivered in the area of aged health care, with new beds for the Westmead community based Transition Care Program. Also, $330,000 has gone to Mission Australia for an Indigenous intervention and prevention of smoking program, which included funding for an Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander outreach worker. We have introduced Medicare Locals to drive improvements in primary health care and we are improving access to medical training. Only a few weeks ago I attended the opening of the $20.6 million University of Western Sydney Blacktown-Mount Druitt Clinical School, a facility that opens up great opportunities for aspiring doctors in the area. They now have a world-class training facility close to home. Greater Western Sydney is one of the fastest-growing areas of the country and investments like this and other local health initiatives are key if we are to meet the future service and training needs of the area. The new facility has capacity for around 150 medical students.

We also recognise the need to tackle mental health in a much more direct way. To this end, this year the government announced the biggest investment in mental health ever, with a $2.2 billion investment in mental health. I am proud to say that part of the funding will be used for a new headspace mental health service for young people that is due to open later this year. This program will help to tackle issues surrounding youth mental health. In any year, one in four young Australians aged 16 to 24 years—that is about 670,000 people—will experience mental health disorders, including substance use disorders. However, three-quarters of these people are not receiving the professional help they need because of a lack of access to youth specific mental health services. This new service will provide local young people aged between 12 and 25 support for depression, substance abuse and other mental health issues. It will give young people and their parents and carers somewhere to turn for help.

I am also pleased that the Greater Western Sydney eHealth Consortium was selected as one of nine new e-health lead implementation sites for the Gillard government's $467 million national personally controlled electronic health records project. E-health is a critical element of the Gillard government's efforts to modernise our health system through national health reform. E-health records will help provide faster diagnosis, cut down on medication errors and give patients peace of mind as doctors will be able to see the patient's medical history. Residents in Western Sydney will benefit greatly from being amongst the first in the country to have an e-health record.

There is much more to do. Western Sydney is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country. The needs are great after so many years of neglect, but there has been substantial work done that has made a very real difference to the people of my electorate.