Hospital to stay put
I write in response to letters from Bill Hancock and Jason Cox concerning plans to upgrade Shoalhaven Hospital.
Firstly, in response to Mr Hancock, I note that he resides opposite the existing hospital site - a point he all too conveniently failed to mention. Mr Hancock also opposed the development of the Cancer Care Centre at its current site. His comments are smothered in nothing other than self-interest and it's unreasonable to move an entire health precinct when the hospital was there long before Mr Hancock.
Second, Mr Hancock's claims of 'political games' by myself and Shelley Hancock are not only wrong - they are incendiary and outrageous. Shelley Hancock and I stood on an election platform of improving public health services which included a major redevelopment of the Shoalhaven Hospital. The community of the Shoalhaven backed our plan at the election. All we are doing is coming good on the pledge we made to our community. Mr Hancock has no such mandate.
What Mr Hancock conveniently ignores is that the only available sites for a new hospital would be well outside of the Nowra Township given concerns around fire and flood prone land. Mr Hancock's plan could cost lives given that hospitals are always best located in the centre of populations. The Wollongong Hospital re-development is but one example of how existing sites can see much-needed improvements.
Mr Hancock conveniently ignores the millions of dollars invested into upgrading the current site in recent years including the Cancer Care Centre, the Emergency Department and car parking - this can't all just be picked up and taken elsewhere. Mr Hancock also ignores all the doctors and other medical professionals located around the hospital precinct that support the medical needs of our community in partnership with the hospital.
I note in his letter, Mr Cox made claims there has been a lack of consultation around the upgrade. This is not correct. In 2012 the then Health Minister Jillian Skinner announced plans for a health precinct around the hospital and cancer centre. Conversations have been happening since that time around the acquisition of Nowra Park to enable the future creation of a health precinct.
The Shoalhaven Hospital Clinical Services plan has been progressively developed in consultation with doctors, nurses and other medical staff and there will be further community consultation on the final planning stages of the hospital project. All of the services mentioned by Mr Cox in his letter are included in the expanded and upgraded hospital and I would be more than happy to discuss the proposal with him to prevent further ill-informed commentary on his behalf.
Shoalhaven Hospital is my local hospital. I want more and better services with more doctors and nurses.
Both the Government, and to their credit, the Opposition support improving health services at the current location.
I won't be breaking my promise to our community that I made at the last election. I won't be risking downgrading health services or pushing our hospital further away from the centre of the population. I also don't want to see another 10 years go by with nothing happening and it's far too simplistic to think that decisions about major medical precincts are made like flicking a switch - this view is myopic and irresponsible. There is a dangerous political undertone behind this campaign and locals should not be fooled into thinking the grass is greener. It's not.
Gareth Ward, Member for Kiama
In 2018 I was employed as a social worker by Pormpur Panthu, an Aboriginal women's organisation in the remote community of Pormpuraaw, which is on the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Very quickly I became aware of how illiteracy meant that proud and good people could not manage their own affairs. I was asked by locals to commence literacy tutoring in the mornings before work. I reached out for support material to the reading and writing hotline.
I contacted then Federal MP for Gilmore Ann Sudmalis for advice and support.
At that stage I was unaware that Ann was chair of the Parliamentary Aboriginal Affairs Committee. Ann worked away lobbying regarding this issue.
I recently heard from the CEO of Pormpur Panthu that Pormpuraaw has been chosen as one of the pilot sites for an adult literacy program with the support of the reading and writing hotline. Thank you Ann.