Monday, April 22, 2024

$4.8m to improve primary care for vulnerable Canberrans

The ACT Government has pledged to improve access to primary care for vulnerable Canberrans with complex and chronic health conditions, with a $4.3 million investment announced today.

Minister for Health, Rachel Stephen-Smith said the funding will help improve access to care for housebound ACT residents, vulnerable young people, people from a refugee background and gender diverse Canberrans.

“Canberrans who have complex and underlying health concerns are not always able to engage with primary health care and this can result in poor health and social outcomes, as well as unnecessary escalation to acute and emergency services,” the Minister said.

“Barriers to access include financial circumstances, living situations and cultural needs, and past experiences with health services. The ACT Government has been working to address these barriers by funding targeted services and working closely with our community partners.

“The ACT Government will continue to work with community partners and health services to improve the integration of our healthcare system and provide more support for Canberrans to access the care they need.”

Over the next four years, more than $3.4 million will continue programs delivered by Directions, Anglicare’s Junction Youth Health Service and Companion House. This ongoing investment will boost evidence-based programs that have demonstrated community success and increase access to care for those who need it, said Ms Stephen-Smith.

The Government also annou ced more than $900,000 in grants to the following four local primary care organisations to deliver innovative new projects:

  • Meridian will receive $280,000 to establish a financially sustainable, culturally safe, gender-affirming primary health care clinic.
  • Next Practice will receive $250,000 to provide integrated primary care for up to 250 housebound ACT residents with complex and chronic health care needs.
  • Anglicare Junction will receive $210,000 to establish a mobile health clinic for young people aged between 12-25 years who are experiencing, or who at risk of, homelessness.
  • Companion House will receive $170,300 to recruit community pools of ACT general practices willing to take referrals of people from a refugee background for long-term care, or on-arrival health assessments and short-term care.

Capital Health Network supported the grant program with a $100,000 contribution in recognition of its critical role in supporting access to primary care in the ACT.

“It is well evidenced that LGBTIQA+ people experience significantly poorer mental and physical health than the general population,” said Meridian CEO, Phillipa Moss.

“This health disparity is largely related to chronic stressors from stigmatisation and the pathologisation of sexuality and gender, leading to discrimination, exclusion, harassment and physical violence. There is limited care coordination resources to support LGBTIQA+ people with complex needs.

“As a result, people fall through the gaps and often do not access the health care they need in a timely manner. Meridian hopes to fill the gap in the service system, particularly gender-affirming GPs, care coordination and allied health practitioners, so that LGBTIQA+ people can access safe and affirming primary health care.”

Anglicare NSW South, NSW West & ACT – ACT Manager of Youth & Family Services, Sarah Murdoch said the organisation was extremely grateful for ACT Health grants, which will allow the launch of a youth health van later this year.

“The van will be clinic room on wheels, reducing barriers faced by young people who are struggling to access much-needed health care,” said Ms Murdoch.

“The van will increase the Junction’s capacity to reach more young people, a number of whom are facing homelessness and physical and mental health complexities.

“We are excited to see the difference that such an innovative delivery model will make in the health and lives of young people in the ACT.”

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