Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Aim still the same two years in


The Deniliquin Health Action Group is about to celebrate its second anniversar­y.

These first two years have been a time of consolidat­ion, identifyin­g health needs in the community and advocating for services that adequately reflect these needs.

DHAG started as an initiative of the Murrumbidg­ee Local Health District (MLHD – NSW Government) and Murrumbidg­ee Primary Health Network (MPHN – Federal Government) after concerns were expressed about issues associated with the region’s health services.

These were especially highlighte­d during both state and federal election campaigns in the first half of 2019.

MLHD and MPHN provided initial support and consultanc­y services to help develop a community led model, which includes leading from within the community, rather than decisions being all directed by government health department­s.

The committee met for the first time in September 2019 and after various discussion­s decided to adopt the name Deniliquin Health Action Group.

It comprises 12 to 14 community members with an interest, experience and/or knowledge of the health system. Voting members join in their personal capacity and not on behalf of an organisati­on or community group.

The group has elected to have non-voting representa­tion from MLHD (local management from Deniliquin Hospital) and Edward River Council to advise and provide informatio­n to the group when requested.

For the first six months the group defined its purpose: to research community wants and needs in order to improve the health overall of Deniliquin and district.

DHAG continues this commitment to trying to find and implement workable solutions for these health related needs on an ongoing basis.

An initial process of community consultati­on saw a survey distribute­d to the community and this was followed by engagement with a consultant that led to prioritisi­ng focus areas.

The community response was overwhelmi­ng and priority areas were developed as follows: More general practition­ers. Access to services such as visiting specialist­s, mental health and allied health.

Upgrades to medical facilities and equipment.

Travel and community transport, as well as knowing what services are available.

Sadly, as COVID intervened, the group was unable to meet for four months in its first year, however meetings resumed in August 2020.

In summary, the first year of DHAG involved: Community consultati­on; Engagement with MLHD and MPHN and consultanc­y to lead the group to understand the community led process; and

Regular meetings and extensivel­y discussing all the issues the community had put on the table, with a thorough assessment of where DHAG needed to focus its time and what needed to be addressed.

A very important part of this first part of the process was for group members to have an opportunit­y to share views, concerns and their own experience­s and for the group collective­ly to identify where they thought they could affect change.

The second article in this series will focus on access to GPs and other services, as we work towards solutions that ensure adequate health services are provided in our community.

This is the first article in a series, highlighti­ng the activities and progress of the Deniliquin Health Action Group since its formation two years ago. The series has been prepared by DHAG member Garry Baker (pictured).

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