Doorstop with Labor's candidate for Bass Ross Hart

HART: Thank you everyone for attending today. It is a lovely sunny day in Launceston and I am very honored to invite Stephen Jones, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Health here today. He is here to make a very exciting announcement regarding palliative care in Launceston.   

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JONES: Thanks Ross, I am absolutely delighted to be here today and I want to start by congratulating yourself, Senator Polley and all the activists and members of the committee who have been campaigning, fundraising and working for over 10 years now to see the re-opening of a hospice here in Launceston to service Northern Tasmania. I want to congratulate all those people for all their hard work. And send a very clear message to you that an elected Shorten Labor Government will grant $3 million to the building of a new hospice here in Launceston at Allambi. And this is a perfect location. It is so suitable because you have here in one place access to the support services that would be needed. Across the road you would have the acute care services. The importance of the hospice model, is that it takes that end-of-life care out of the medical model and ensures that people can spend their last days in a nursing and caring en vironment getting the palliative care they need, but not in hospital. So many people want to ensure they have their last days supported by their loved ones and get the care that they need. But they don’t want end-of-life care in a hospital. A hospice is better for them and it is better for the bottom line. We know here in Launceston that there are over 10,000 people living alone and an ageing population. In the very near future there will be an increased need for these types of facilities. I want to congratulate you Ross for your work in advocating to me and the Labor health team for expressing to us the importance of this project and I want to thank Senator Helen Polley and to again confirm an elected Shorten Labor Government will contribute $3 million to the building of this facility.    

JOURNALIST: An independent report says that we don’t need a hospice in the north there are enough resources here for the next 20 years. You have a different view?

JONES: Of course the people who have been pushing for the last 10 years know the importance of the hospice model. It is different to other services. Yes, there will always be a place for home care, and looking after someone in the home, and the majority of people prefer that. But if you have two elderly people and one partner is just unable to care for them at the end of their life or if they need respite or if they want an alternative to hospital based care there is a gap. The hospice plan model that has worked so well overseas has an important role here to play in Northern Tasmania.    

JOURNALIST: $3 million isn’t going to be enough to build this center, is this just a case of pork barreling before the election?

JONES: People have been pushing for over ten years for this facility to be built. Of course we did have a facility operating here many years ago. There is a need for it. The community have been pushing for it. The Liberal Party themselves when in Opposition here in Tasmania themselves advocated for this facility, clearly they have changed their mind once they got into government. But clearly there is support for this project and there has been a history of support.

JOURNALIST: Is $3 million just a gesture?

JONES: The $3 million will go a long way to meeting the capital needs of this project.

JOURNALIST: Where are you expecting the rest of the money to come from and how much is it expected to cost?

JONES: There will be as there is in other hospice models around the world an important contribution from the local community and service organisations. A lot of the work that is done in hospices around the world is actually done on a volunteer basis, not all of it. I think there is strong support in the community for that type of care. I will repeat this, because it is an important point. We are looking at a different model of care from the traditional medical model of care that operates within the hospital system. That is not to denigrate that. It still has an important role to play. But for many people at their end-of-life stage it is not 24/7 doctor care or nurse care they need. What they need is a supportive environment with access to as many hospital services in close proximity if needed. But it is their family, their loved ones and the community in a supportive environment that they need.   

JOURNALIST: Say the hospice is built. And the money is gathered to convert Allambi into a hospice. Who will take responsibility for the facility from there? Will it be the Federal Government taking responsibility for that or will it be onto the state from there?  

JONES: We think an important relationship can be built between the local community, the volunteers, service providers, the State Government and the Federal Government.

JOURNALIST: So will any of the funding go to staffing the facility?

JONES: Let’s get one step at a time. A Shorten Labor Government is promising for the capital needs for the project to get the facility built and fit for purpose.

JOURNALIST: It is worth pointing out that the last Labor state government shut down the last hospice. Who is to say a state government won’t step in and do the same again?

JONES: I think times have changed. There is a clear need. There are over 10,000 people living alone and we have an ageing population. I think the state government themselves will come to their senses and they will understand having a model of care based on hospice as opposed to the hospital is going to be a far more efficient form of care and meeting peoples end-of-life needs.

JOURNALIST: And how will this fit in with the Melwood Unit?

JONES: We will obviously want to ensure that it fits in with all other service provisions throughout Northern Tasmania. But I think this will fill an important gap in the health service and in the caring services here in Northern Tasmania. I will repeat again, there will always be a  place for home based care and for the services that Labor already funds, including home based care and hospital care, but in between those is hospice care.

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