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This month I announced the great news that North Coast Medicare Local has been appointed to run the Primary Health Network on the North Coast.

There had been concern that our Primary Health Network may be run by an organisation from outside the area. When our local health professionals spoke to me about this I lobbied the Minister to make sure our PHN was run locally. I would like to thank those who took the time to raise the issue with me. Primary Health Networks – or PHNs - are part of the Government’s plans to improve the health of the nation and will replace Medicare Locals from July 1.

The PHNs will work directly with GPs, other primary health care providers, secondary care providers, hospitals and the broader community to ensure improved outcomes for patients.

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The Federal Government has announced a national taskforce to tackle the scourge of Ice. This is a very important first step in developing a National Ice Action Strategy to address what is fast becoming a major health, social and law enforcement issue in regional Australia.

The rapid spread of Ice in our community is something that I have been concerned about for some time and I have been talking with my colleagues, including the Ministers for Justice, Health, Education and Social Services about the need to tackle Ice head on.

Just last month I invited the Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash to our region to discuss the problem with our local police.

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This month I announced the Northern NSW Local Health District will receive more than $640,000 from the Federal Government to provide direct delivery of dementia care services across the Northern Rivers. This is terrific news and I would like to give credit to our local health district and health professionals who worked with me to ensure that continuation of this much-needed service.

The funding provides certainty for people with dementia, their carers and health professionals. The Dementia Outreach Programme, based in Ballina, assists people living with dementia and their carers.     

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I’ve put out a call for the local community to join the nation’s largest conversation about the best ways to prevent, treat and cure diabetes, which affects the lives of most people in some way. This is an opportunity for all Australians to participate in finding the best ways to prevent, treat and cure this rapidly growing national problem.

We know it doesn’t just impact those who have the disease, it takes a heavy toll on their family and friends, their job, the sustainability of the health budget and our national prosperity. It’s critically important that we get a broad diversity of views. We want to hear from carers, parents, employers, doctor, researchers and anyone living with the disease.

Comments received through this consultation will inform the National Diabetes Strategy. Submissions are due by Friday May 17.