In the 2014 Budget the Coalition launched an unprecedented attack on Australia’s health system.  This, amongst other things, included cutting more than $57 billion in hospital funding, increasing the cost of medicines, introducing a GP Tax and cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for public dental programs.

And this attack continued in this year’s Budget with more than $2 billion in new health cuts.  Sadly, the rebates provided through Medicare for optometry services were not immune from this attack.  One of the decisions of the Coalition Government was to cut the rebates optometrists receive under Medicare by 5%.  Another was to remove the cap on the fees optometrists can charge, allowing them to set their own fees.  These changes came into effect on 1 January this year.
Labor of course is the party that introduced Medicare and the only major party that stands for universal access to health services.  We believe that every Australian should have access to the highest quality healthcare regardless of where they live and regardless of their capacity to pay.  My colleagues and I in the Opposition are at the moment closely engaged in examining policy proposals for a health system that is relevant to the times as well as adhering to our longstanding principles of universality and fairness as well as efficacy.
This September I will be joining the National Stroke Foundation in urging local residents to “challenge” stroke as part of National Stroke Week and I encourage fellow community members to also get involved.

Stroke Week is about raising awareness to help prevent stroke.

Did you know one in six of us will have a stroke in our lifetime? In our electorate alone there will be around 310 this year. However, many of these strokes can be prevented.

This National Stroke Week I am joining the National Stroke Foundation to challenge its impact on our community and I urge you to do the same. Together, we will shine the spotlight on stroke, educating the community on its signs and how to minimise our risk of stroke.

Be aware, live healthy and get checked. Take action to reduce your stroke risk, learn more about stroke and help raise stroke awareness in the community.

Together we can fight stroke and win.

Take the challenge this National Stroke Week. To find out more, register your challenge visit www.strokefoundation.com.au

National Stroke Week runs from September 14 to 20. It is an annual event that aims to raise the awareness of stroke within the community and encourage Australians to take action to prevent stroke.

The ABC’s Heywire Competition has just been launched and is calling on people aged 16 to 22 who are living in rural and regional areas to submit stories about life in their neck of the woods.

Over 30 winners will be chosen to have their story featured on ABC Radio and online, and will score an all-expenses paid trip to the Heywire Regional Youth Summit in Canberra in February 2016, where they will work on ideas to make regional Australia a better place for young people. Their ideas could then become a reality through the ABC’s Youth Innovation Grants program, which supports regional communities to put them in to action.

Entries close Tuesday 16 September 2015. For further information visit abc.net.au/heywire.

Are you a registered organ and tissue donor?  If you are-does your family know?

Australia is a world leader for successful transplant outcomes yet has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the world and it has been declining over recent years.  Sadly NSW has the lowest donation rate of all the States.

Up to 1500 people in Australia are on the wait list for organ and tissue donation, 42 in the Hunter region.

One organ and tissue donor can transform the lives of 10 or more people. 

Let’s start this conversation and increase participation in the life saving program.

For more information go to www.donatelife.gov.au/discover/facts-and-statistics or to register go to www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/medicare/australian-organ-donor-register?utm_id=9

I am always keen to assist with issues or questions relating to Federal Government departments or put you in contact with someone who can, so please ring, write, visit the website or call in.

Why not go the extra step by following me on my Facebook page “Joel Fitzgibbon” or on Twitter and type in the search bar “fitzhunter”. Or by regularly checking my website at www.joelfitzgibbon.com or you can even sign up to my E-Newsletter.

To contact the office, phone 1300 301 753, visit www.joelfitzgibbon.com or by post 3 Edward Street, (PO Box 526) Cessnock, 2325.

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