Flying Doctor makes memories happen

Adjournment speech

November 19, 2021

Tania MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (13:51): (1667)

My adjournment is to the Minister for Health, and the action I seek is for the minister to meet with the Royal Flying Doctor Service regarding their palliative care program, Memory Lane, and how the government can provide support.

Who does not know, love and respect the Royal Flying Doctor Service and their work? This trusted organisation is committed to connecting communities with the care and support they need and with one another. I had the pleasure to recently meet with the CEO, Scott Chapman, to talk about the broad range of services they provide across our regional communities. They are well known for their remote patient transport service, and their planes make frequent trips to Mildura, Albury-Wodonga and interstate. But with 700 staff around Victoria plus an army of volunteers, flight services represent only around 14 per cent of their work, and the Royal Flying Doctor Service also offers community transport, dental clinics, telehealth, eye care, a women’s GP service and speech therapy.

The Flying Doctor Memory Lane program is something extremely special and supports patients in end-of-life care to visit a place that is meaningful to them. An example from my electorate is Jack. Jack was in palliative care in Rochester after spending 92 years on his farm. The Memory Lane team fulfilled his dying wish to return to the farm one last time. The team decorated the inside of the transport vehicle with eucalyptus leaves. They took Jack back to his farm, and he was able to spend some time inside his home and with his family, be in his garden with memories of his wife, who had planted roses, and look down his long driveway one last time. It gave him time to reflect and to say goodbye. Five days later Jack passed away.

The family was so grateful they had the chance to fulfil his last wish. This is something they could not facilitate safely for Jack on their own. The last wishes of the dying are not usually elaborate; it is usually visiting a place of personal significance one more time. And this is not just about fulfilling these wishes for older citizens but applies to every age. The Memory Lane program relies on a team of volunteers and generous donations. I think this wonderful program could be made available more broadly across the state, and I encourage the government to explore these opportunities. In the meantime I thank the volunteers and the team at the Royal Flying Doctor Service for all their wonderful hard work.

Watch Jack’s story – a Royal Flying Doctor Service ‘Memory Lane’ video clip.

Justice Party wants budget primary prevention boost

Tania Maxwell MP has called on the state government to invest more in drug, alcohol and family violence primary prevention and early intervention through school and community safety programs in its May 20 budget.

The Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party Member for Northern Victoria said public funding for prevention and intervention was not significant enough to drive down the current costs of the state’s policing, courts and corrections systems.

“A month ahead of the scheduled release in June of national crime statistics for 2020, we know that 101 people in Victoria became victims of homicide and related offences in 2019 – an increase of 19 per cent,” Ms Maxwell said.

“While the number of victims of sexual assault dropped 2pc to 5829, 37pc of them (2149) were assaulted in family or domestic settings, and almost 40pc of all victims were children or young people under 19 years old.

“There were 3149 victims of robbery, up 29pc, and more than half of all perpetrators were armed[1].

“At the same time the number of criminal incidents classed as drug offences increased 7pc (to 16,775)[2].

“Early intervention is the key to reducing crime and these numbers tell me that we need to be directing much more into preventative programs and services to see positive change, and that’s what I’ve asked the government to do in productive meetings I’ve had with the Treasurer and other Ministers.

“I welcome progressive steps the government’s taken, especially its support for my call in June, last year, for a parliamentary inquiry into Victoria’s criminal justice system that’s now underway.

“This inquiry will enable us to examine the factors that have led to growing remand and prison populations and to recommend ways to reverse those trends.

“There is so much more to do in this area and I hope the inquiry will provide some thought-provoking recommendations for the government to consider.

“The government in the 2020 budget also directed $335 million, which I advocated, towards programs for young people, including out-of-home care support, life-skills development, keeping families together and helping those who’ve come apart to reunite.

“But we need to see this money delivered on the ground in the rural and regional communities that I represent, together with significant investment in affordable housing, including social housing, education, skills training, work and digital access, mental and other health services, and alcohol and other drug treatment programs.

“These are initiatives that can have a positive, collective impact and I look forward the government’s clear commitment to this approach in Thursday’s budget.”

Ms Maxwell said other Budget funding priorities identified with Justice Party leader Stuart Grimley MP included:

  • Funding to reduce the caseload backlog in Victoria’s court system (the government last week committed $210m to speed court and tribunal hearings held up because of COVID-19).
  • Up to $23.4m, plus operational funding, to develop Education First Youth Foyers at GOTAFE Wangaratta and Wodonga TAFE so young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness can access integrated accommodation, education and well-being support to become job-ready.
  • $15m to co-fund development of the Mernda Health and Wellbeing Hub to support services for a community projected have 65,000 residents within the next 17 years.
  • $9.4m to fund Sunraysia Mallee Port Link – a project to shift significant volumes of farm produce from road to rail in north west Victoria. (SMPL was formerly known as Ouyen Intermodel.)
  • Upgrades to Victoria Police stations at Benalla, Cobram, Euroa and Rochester to improve policing capabilities and safety in these communities.
  • Urgent, regionally-targeted action to ensure ambulance service effectiveness. Recent funding announcements are positive, but communities need to know bottlenecks, such as hospital ramping, will be fixed and preventative measures to reduce demand.
  • $1.9m over four years to model and establish a Defence Dogs Program in Victoria to support defence veterans living with post-traumatic stress injury.
  • $465,000 to replace Koondrook CFA’s 32-year-old – and only – fire truck as a first step to improve local fire-fighting capability and volunteer skills.

Image: University of Melbourne (Family Violence Prevention)

[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics: 45100DO001_2019 Recorded Crime – Victims, Australia, 2019