My question is for the Minister for Health, Minister Mikakos. I refer the minister to her 19 February 2019 media release with the Premier about the launch of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre’s (VCCC) teletrials program. In that media release it was stated that the teletrials would begin in Bendigo and Wodonga but would extend to other parts of regional Victoria. To which other parts of regional Victoria and when have these teletrials subsequently been extended?
Response: I thank the member for her question. She touches upon a really important area because our government is absolutely committed to making sure that all parts of the state get access to good-quality and safe health care regardless of their postcode. We will be looking at what further improvements can be made in terms of this really important area of providing additional services to regional Victorians. In terms of any proposed rollout, I would be very happy to have a look at the potential for additions in terms of locations and have a discussion with the member about this.
Supplementary Question: Thank you, Minister Mikakos, for that answer. It sounds like the Mildura region is still yet to be included in the teletrials. I therefore ask my supplementary question: why is a city and surrounding region whose residents are around nine times more likely to die of cancer than the national average, who are geographically isolated and further away from Melbourne than the people of any other major population centre in Victoria and who therefore spend well over $1 million annually travelling for cancer treatment not a quintessential example of an area that should be included in these teletrials?
Response: I certainly agree that there are particular parts of our state, including in regional Victoria, that experience particular disadvantage. This is why we have funded in the budget this year something that we made an election commitment about. It is $136 million over four years to provide an extra 500 000 specialist appointments to patients living in regional Victoria, including for people experiencing cancer treatment. So we are certainly making every effort to provide for greater access in terms of regional Victoria getting access to these types of clinical trials. One thing that we did do also in the budget was to provide funding for the Alfred hospital to do more clinical trials specifically with a focus on regional Victorians. So I am very happy to have a look at the program that the member has specifically mentioned in relation to the VCCC teletrials program, which has started in particular locations that the member mentioned, and have a discussion with her about this.