Merri Health visits Parliament House to discuss Community Health First

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Published Nov 17 2023

Merri Health CEO Tassia Michaleas met with Shadow Minister for Health Georgie Crozier on 15 November to discuss local health and Community Health First support - focussing on a positive, solutions-focused vision for the role of community health.

Community Health First unites all 24 of Victoria’s registered community health services with one shared goal – improving the health, wellbeing and quality of life for all Victorians.

Registered community health services play a unique and important role in ensuring access to essential support for all Victorians. Community health services operate out of more than 190 sites across metropolitan, rural and regional Victoria, employing over 10,000 people to support more than 500,000 Victorians every year.

Working across the full spectrum of healthcare prevention, early intervention and multi-disciplinary care, community health bridges the gap between primary care and tertiary care, to connect people with place-based services that improve health, social and economic outcomes.

By investing in community health in the 2024 Budget, the Victorian government can improve health outcomes for Victorians, reduce demand on acute healthcare services, avoid immediate and long-term costs and ensure limited healthcare resources are directed where they are most needed.

Community Health First’s Budget Submission includes a plan to avoid $637 million of costs and will:

  • Alleviate the burden of chronic disease on hospitals by providing tailored support to reduce hospital presentations and bed days for patients with chronic conditions
  • Deliver on the planned surgery reform by optimising community-based non-surgical pathways through evidence-based support for osteoarthritis patients and prehabilitation for high-risk planned surgery patients
  • Reduce the number of emergency department presentations by engaging frequent users and supporting them to connect with necessary preventative supports
  • Alleviate strain on regional and rural health services by expanding access to preventative health services for communities that need it most

Tassia Michaleas, Merri Health CEO, said “Community Health is a vital part of Victoria’s primary health system, keeping people well in their communities and out of hospital.”

“From health promotion to disease prevention, treatment and more, we provide essential health and social services to many marginalised individuals who may not afford them otherwise, helping ensure no one falls through the cracks.”

Five community-based programs, already proven to deliver outcomes in Victoria, have been identified that can be scaled across Victoria via registered community health services.

All five programs contribute to the directions set out in the Victorian Health Strategic Plan 2023-27, assist in delivering the reform agenda outlined in the Planned Surgery Reform Blueprint and are aligned to the Victorian Early Intervention Investment Framework.

Community health services are also proposing to scale the existing Community Health Program to deliver an additional 10,000 hours of preventative health supports each year and drive cost-savings in our system into the future.

This is coupled with a proposed investment in strengthening data on the impacts of community health on the system, to support more effective system-wide planning and efficiencies.

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