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Minister tours city

Thursday, 25th January, 2018

(From left) RFDS base manager Marcus Wilson, local MP Mark Coulton, Senator Bridget McKenzie and RFDS general manager for health services Dr Kathleen Atkinson take a tour of the base. (From left) RFDS base manager Marcus Wilson, local MP Mark Coulton, Senator Bridget McKenzie and RFDS general manager for health services Dr Kathleen Atkinson take a tour of the base.

By Kara de Groot

Broken Hill was visited by the newly-appointed Minister for Rural Health on Wednesday, and she loved the city.

Senator Bridget McKenzie was announced as the new Minister for Rural Health, Minister for Sport, and Minister for Regional Communications at the end of last year and is now travelling the country to visit the rural and regional locations under her portfolio.

She visited the Royal Flying Doctor Service Broken Hill base on Wednesday morning and said it was very exciting to see the iconic service in person.

“One of the reasons I’m here is to make the announcement about $110 million going towards mental health, particularly for young people, but there’s also support for telehealth services such as those used by the RFDS,” Senator McKenzie said.

“Catching up with the doctors and nurses who are out flying, they showed me exactly how the telehealth system works where doctors out on flights,” she said.

“If they’re presented with an instance where they need a bit more advice, they can immediately beam back to a more experienced colleague and get the info they need to stabilise that patient and get them the help they need,” she said.

“We can’t put a psychologist or psychiatrist in every rural town but what we can do is ensure that if it’s 3am and you or someone you love needs help, we’ve got a whole variety of methods and technologies to make sure that no matter where you live in this country you have access to high quality care.”

She also complimented the RFDS for its dental service, and the work that service does in schools in indigenous communities.

She said providing support for young people, both physically and mentally, is critical and she’s proud to help deliver it.

$110 million has been announced for mental health programs in Australia, with $1.8 million going towards digital mental health services, $30 million going towards Headspace, $46 million for beyondblue and a host of funding for other mental health services and research bodies.

“I’m four weeks into the job and looking forward to assisting and making sure we’ve got more home grown doctors, nurses and allied health professionals in regional areas,” Senator McKenzie said.

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