The current Heart of Australia service in outback Queensland has been secured with a $1 million boost from the federal government.
The funding, announced by the Assistant Minister for Health Dr David Gillespie, was the result of ‘grass roots’ advocacy efforts including from Member for Maranoa, David Littleproud and Queensland Senator Barry O’Sullivan.
Heart of Australia founder and cardiologist Dr Rolf Gomes told the limbic he was grateful for the support and recognition of how important the service was to rural and regional Queenslanders.
“Advocacy can be extremely powerful when it comes from the people who really understand the difficulties of living out in the bush,” Dr Gomes said.
The mobile cardiology clinic hit the road in late 2014 and has since expanded to include a number of other specialties including respiratory medicine, endocrinology, and neurology.
A second truck, largely funded from a generous philanthropic donation, is under construction and will start delivering services early next year.
Dr Gomes said with local community, industry and now federal government support for Heart of Australia, the question remained why he could not even secure a meeting with Queensland’s Health Minister Cameron Dick.
He said the fact Heart of Australia received 353 referrals from Queensland public hospitals last year demonstrated that it was essentially a ‘pseudo public service’ and the best option for many people in the bush.
“It makes a lot of sense for people to have local access to health services. My only interest is to engage the Queensland government in a productive and collaborative partnership.”
Heart of Australia has travelled more than 150,000 kilometres and seen over 3,300 people in more than 850 visits to regional and remote towns.
Dr Gillespie said the federal government was committed to ensuring that all Australians, regardless of where they lived, had access to first-rate health and medical services.
“Having practiced medicine for 33 years, I can appreciate this impressive service Dr Gomes has developed for rural communities across Queensland,” he said.