24 February 2014
FEDERAL Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce is delighted to announce the Federal Government will fund the Ashford Medical Centre a grant of $280,000 that will provide the small community with a first rate medical and community facility.
The funding will assist the Inverell Shire Council to refurbish the town’s old Masonic Hall to provide rooms for the two doctors servicing the community as well as a location for community health workers and Home and Community Care workers.
Mr Joyce said the Inverell Shire Council had approached him to expedite the grant application process that had seemingly stalled.
“I was delighted to able to step in and help move the process along,” Mr Joyce said.
“Representations made to me indicated the current rooms for the two doctors who visit Ashford we not up to standard.
“The concern was if we didn’t do something soon we might lose both doctors.”
The Inverell Shire Council’s General Manager Paul Henry said the funding represented the success of a Federal Government and local government problem-solving approach to an issue like this one.
He said Mr Joyce had been able to open the lines of communication with the Department of Health and Aging when the submission process had slowed to a stop.
“When we raised the matter with Barnaby, he made representations on a number of occasions,” Mr Henry said.
“He’s been working hard for us and without his support we wouldn’t be where we are now,” Mr Henry said.
Mr Henry said the current community health centre in Ashford was in a poor state of repairs and with the assistance of Sunhaven, the local aged care facility, the old double-brick Masonic Hall had been bought for $65,000.
“The project is shovel-ready to go, development applications are approved and as soon as the Federal funding comes through we can call for tenders,” Mr Henry said.
He said the move to develop the medical centre was a first for the Inverell Shire Council, but a necessary one.
“It was apparent if something wasn’t done soon we’d lose the services of both our doctors in the town,” he said.
He said the Council was contributing $250,000 in cash to the project as well as taking responsibility for car parking, signage and the gardens around the new facility.