Nationals Member for Northern Victoria Region Gaelle Broad has urged the Minister for Health to urgently provide clarity on the future of the Bendigo Stroke Support Group ahead of the May 23 Budget.
Ms Broad spoke in Parliament on the issue yesterday. She previously raised it with the Minister for Health in February, and as yet has not received a response.
The Stroke Association of Victoria have advised that due to a lack of government funding, they will be closing the Bendigo Stroke Support Centre on 19th May.
“I have spoken with stroke survivors, their families and carers, and staff, and they are devastated by this news.
“The group had been running independently for many years and participated in this program in good faith. From all reports the pilot program has been successful.
“Yesterday I received a letter yesterday from a lady whose husband had a stroke, they moved to Bendigo for access to better support services, and they are worried about the mental health of survivors and their families.
Ms Broad said support centres like Bendigo provided a lifeline to stroke survivors, and their families.
“Closing this service will only put our health system under increased pressure.”
Ms Broad said the number of people who suffer a stroke is disturbing – especially in rural and regional areas.
“Regional Australians are 17 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke,” she said.
“A stroke occurs in Australia every 19 minutes. This year it is estimated that 7000 Victorians will have a stroke for the first time. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in Australia. Over 2000 people die from stroke in Victoria each year.
“Without warning, stroke can impact your ability to move or speak. Many people lose their confidence and become isolated. As well as the physical challenges, there are mental pressures like who is going to pay the mortgage and who is going to look after the kids.
Ms Broad said the numbers of young people suffering strokes was increasing, and they need extra help as well.
“This Government can’t afford a short-sighted approach. They need to look at the long-term benefits of this program.
I ask the Minister to provide urgent clarity on the issue, and confirm ongoing funding for the Bendigo Stroke Support Centre ahead of the state budget.
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