Joanne Ryan MP
Federal Member for Lalor
Joanne Ryan MP

ISIS Primary Care, Wyndahm Vale GP Super Clinic

I rise to today to commend to the House ISIS Primary Care and the work they have done in the community health sector across the west of Melbourne for more than 17 years. ISIS has an annual budget of $33 million and employs more than 400 staff throughout Melbourne's west. Recently, ISIS worked together with the previous federal Labor government to provide primary health care to the community of Wyndham Vale in the Lalor electorate. I am pleased to be able to say that the Wyndham Vale GP superclinic opened its doors last Friday and that they did this under budget. I was able to take a tour of the facility on Sunday with hundreds of other locals after receiving a flyer in my letterbox.

This is great news for the community of Wyndham Vale and it is great news for the region. It is also a shining example of how a government's health policy can directly serve the wellbeing of its citizens. The previous Labor government saw the need to plug the gap in primary health care services. This need was identified under former health minister Nicola Roxon.

Australia produces surgeons of renown who have performed many world firsts in areas such as microsurgery and organ transplants. Australia is also renowned throughout the world for the quality of its doctors. Other nations look to us and try to emulate our Medicare system. You might say that it is a good place to get sick. What was missing, however, was an intensive approach in the space between the two—a service that would go further than just a local GP and one able to take the load off hospitals. The GP superclinics were designed to do just that—to deal effectively with primary care.

GP superclinics bring together general practitioners, practice nurses, allied health professionals, visiting medical specialists and other healthcare providers to deliver primary healthcare services aimed at addressing the healthcare needs and priorities of their local communities. Importantly, this GP superclinic will provide after-hours care and dental care, addressing the current 22-month waiting lists in my electorate.

As many of us in this House know, each electorate has its own unique health profile. For example, only 40 per cent of women in Wyndham have regular Pap smears, an alarming statistic in preventative health terms. This GP superclinic will cut waiting times and work in tandem with private practice and the Medicare local to make seeing a doctor and getting vital health checks easier and more timely.

As a further example, the rate of gestational diabetes in my electorate, where 76 babies are born each week, is 4.5 per cent, almost twice the national average. Reducing these numbers is critical because gestational diabetes increases the risk of type 2 diabetes in the longer term. Preventing diseases like diabetes before they take hold is extremely important, as treatment after they become established is difficult, time consuming, leads to poorer health outcomes for patients and leads to lower economic productivity too.

On a purely economic basis, the fiscally shrewd way to deal with diseases, then, is to prevent them—to treat them at the primary level. Prevention, of course, is often immeasurable in the health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. This is why investing in this GP superclinic is not only a good and sound idea for our community's health, it is also fiscally responsible and this is why my community is thankful to people like Nicola Roxon and the current Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek, and indeed my predecessor, Julia Gillard, for putting such work into this project. We also thank Terry O'Brien, the CEO of ISIS, and Clovis Bonner, the chair of the ISIS board.

ISIS have driven the project locally, taken on the challenge and excelled. They had three clear aims for the centre: that it be an iconic building that spoke to the importance of health, that it be near public transport and that it be near a shopping centre to increase awareness and access. They have achieved all three of these aims. The building is beautiful and functional and has plenty of room built in for future expansion. It is near public transport, right next to the Manor Lakes railway station, and the Manor Lakes shopping centre is just a stone's throw away. They have achieved this despite the building being built on the very edge of the growth corridor—truly a greenfields site: no power, no water, no drainage. They built it all under budget and in good time. This was achieved with $15 million from the federal government, at a total cost of $23 million. This GP superclinic will add to the six sites already run by ISIS throughout the Wyndham, Brimbank and Hobsons Bay local government areas.

We needed this GP superclinic. The Wyndham region is going through a period of unprecedented growth. There is a clear need for family healthcare services at the primary level; there is a clear need for this service to operate after hours; and there is a clear need for this service to offer bulk-billing. This GP superclinic satisfies all of those needs. This is good news for health provision in Lalor. I thank ISIS and all those involved for their efforts and expertise.


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