Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (15:34): I rise today to talk about the Strathalbyn emergency department. Today, I was proud to table a petition with 1,452 signatures from the good people of Strathalbyn and surrounding districts. The petition noted that the emergency department of the Strathalbyn and District Health Service was closed during the COVID-19 pandemic due to its co-location with an aged-care facility. The request is that the state government immediately reopen the emergency department at the Strathalbyn and District Health Service to its pre-COVID operating hours and provide whatever workforce is necessary to operate this facility.
This facility has been shut down for three years. It is time to reopen the Strathalbyn emergency department immediately. This is a government where the health minister has made a big noise about supplying hundreds of healthcare workers—hundreds of doctors, hundreds of nurses and hundreds of paramedics—to better the health services in this state.
Well, where are they? They are certainly not coming to Strathalbyn. They are not coming to an area where you have an emergency department that would service up to at least 10,000 people, including the people of not just Strathalbyn but further out towards Milang, Clayton, Langhorne Creek and surrounding areas.
The argument has been made to me that, 'It's only 15 minutes from Strathalbyn to Mount Barker hospital.' That is not the point. That could be the difference between life and death. That may be the time from Strathalbyn, but what about those people who live 20 minutes down the road, 30 minutes down the road and further out, who deserve decent health care in their region?
You can tell from the number of signatures on this petition, and this petition is ongoing. I have been in at least 10 places in Strathalbyn where people are rightly concerned about the health services in this area. These facilities need reopening. Where are these doctors? Where are these doctors, where are the nurses and where is the support that should be coming to this vital facility?
While I am on my feet, I want to give a bit of a discussion about some of the history of the healthcare services in Strathalbyn. We have the beautiful Kalimna Hostel, which the community raised funding for over many years, bought the land and then built the hostel, yet viciously in 2017, before the 2018 election, the Labor government closed the facility, citing safety concerns. They were saying that the people in that facility in aged-care support services would not be able to get out of their rooms. If there were a fire, in all those rooms they could have been wrapped up in a blanket and got out. It has been closed and it has been shut ever since.
We were at a town meeting in 2017 that demanded that Kalimna be reopened. We put $3 million into that project to redevelop Kalimna, yet under this Labor government we still do not see the outcome of the plans for where Kalimna goes next with this community-fundraised facility and community-fundraised land.
We have the Strathalbyn aged-care facility, the memory support unit. I am so proud to be part of a government that in 2020 announced this. It was a $16 million expansion of 36 new beds, including a 24-bed open ward and a 12-bed memory support unit. This unit opened in December 2021, and I am so proud to see that facility open. We came through with our promise to get that facility open for that support unit. In recent times, I was at the opening of the new SES unit and the ambulance station in Strathalbyn, which were Marshall Liberal government initiatives. I am so proud to have them in place.
We made commitments. We kept those commitments. Now we need a commitment from the current Labor government, Minister Picton and Premier Malinauskas to reopen the emergency department in Strathalbyn to make sure that those good citizens and the citizens of the surrounding districts get the vital health care that they need.