Nationals Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke addressed the parliament on the importance of including Tresillian inpatient services as part of the Cowra Hospital redevelopment.
Exactly one week ago today I was delivered news that as a local MP, you never want to hear.
I was told that a much-needed and long-promised investment in the health and wellbeing of not just my community, but of the many communities throughout the entire Central West, was being axed.
That, following advice from the Western NSW Local Health District, the NSW Labor Government was no longer going to include two new inpatient beds for a dedicated Tresillian residential inpatient service as part of the redevelopment of Cowra Hospital.
To be honest, I still can’t quite believe it, and I’m very hopeful that once I provide some further context around the need for this service to the Minister for Regional Health, he will be open to facilitating a different outcome.
I say this knowing that the Minister has a very real and genuine interest in ensuring the health needs of those in the regions are met – and I certainly commend him for that.
Particularly when it comes to Tresillian – I know the Minister is a big supporter of the work they do.
I note that in July, he was on hand to cut the ribbon at the Tresillian Family Care Centre in Griffith.
In a social media post that day, he paid tribute to the essential services they provide. He said:
“Tresillian do a really phenomenal job providing absolutely vital care and support for young families and I know this new centre will make a huge difference.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself – Tresillian do an amazing job, and make such a huge difference in the lives of those they help.
And while we fought hard and have secured a Family Care Centre for Cowra, there are no Tresillian inpatient services west of the Divide in New South Wales.
This means that for any families who have particular challenges with their newborns and their little ones, they have to travel for hours, far from home, to either Canberra or Sydney to receive those specialised services provided by Tresillian.
This sort of upheaval takes a toll on a young family – it’s such a stressful time.
So given that this is a brand-new hospital being built in Cowra, the whole idea was to be able to provide Tresillian’s critical essential services close to where people live – close to their support network of family and friends.
And Cowra as a location makes just so much sense. It is a highly central location in the Central West, so much so that the councils right across the region all locked-in to unanimously support the positioning of Tresillian inpatient beds at Cowra.
That includes Forbes, Parkes, Orange, Bathurst, Lachlan, Upper Lachlan, the list goes on, and on, and on.
The chair of the Central NSW Joint Organisation of Councils, councillor John Medcalf said, and I quote:
“The Board once again unanimously resolved to provide continued support for a Tresillian residential unit to be incorporated in the redevelopment of Cowra Hospital.”
“For our communities to be afforded the opportunity to have a well-regarded specialist residential service in addition to the day service is absolutely vital.” End quote.
This made a lot of sense to a lot of people.
I’ve sought an urgent meeting with the Regional Health Minister, and I hope very much that he will allow me the chance to explain the situation on the ground, so that he can be left in no doubt about the consequences of cutting Tresillian from the Cowra Hospital redevelopment.
In doing so, I’m imploring him to overturn this decision; I genuinely believe it’s absolutely the wrong call.
It’s one that’s been made without any community engagement by the Western NSW Local Health District, despite the fact that we had to go through years and years of community consultation to finalise the Clinical Services Plan, to land on the concept for the hospital that we now have.
And on the eve of the main build commencing, this decision has completely blindsided me as the local member; it’s blindsided the mayor and the local council; and it’s most certainly blindsided the community.
It’s my very real hope that common sense will prevail, and that the vision behind the Tresillian component of the Cowra Hospital project will shine through, and that this wrong will soon be made right.