The Coalition Government will provide support for three essential health and mental health programs that will benefit many people in the electorate of Parkes. The Government will provide the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine to every pregnant woman in the country, protecting both baby and mother from this life-threatening disease. The $39.5 million investment will mean the vaccine is added to the National Immunisation Program, guaranteeing its access, safety and availability for the first time.
Whooping cough is a terrible disease that can cause life-threatening complications, including pneumonia or brain damage. Whooping cough is a vaccine preventable disease and I urge all mums-to-be to get vaccinated. The free vaccine will be available from July 1, 2018 for all pregnant women.
The Government will also provide $33.8 million to Lifeline to significantly boost its telephone crisis service and help those with mental health issues. Over 1 million Australians reach out to Lifeline each year and it receives the largest call volume of any crisis support service. This funding will mean the charity can answer more calls, helping them answer close to 100 per cent of calls. The Federal Government has contributed more than $57 million since 2011-12 to Lifeline’s 13 11 14 telephone service.
The Coalition Government will provide $241 million to list a vital and life-saving medicine which treats Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), cutting the cost to patients by hundreds of thousands of dollars. From June 1 this year we will make Spinraza available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for the treatment of Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3a SMA for all patients under the age of 18. This will be both life-saving and life-changing for hundreds of young patients and their families. Patients would otherwise pay more than $367,850 a year for the medicine. This listing will now mean they only pay a maximum of $39.50 per script, with concessional patients paying just $6.40. This vital medicine will no longer be out of reach for patients.
As large sections of the electorate of Parkes continue to experience dry conditions it is timely to remind those affected that the Federal Government has numerous forms of assistance in place. Assistance is made available to farmers irrespective of the cause of hardship, drought being one of those causes.
This includes the Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme, Farm Household Allowance, Managing Farm Risk Programme, the Rural Financial Counselling Service and support to manage the effects of pest animals and weeds in drought-affected areas. To ensure farmers receive the best possible advice and support to address their specific circumstances, it is important they do not self-assess, but instead seek advice from the Department of Human Services Farmer Assistance Hotline on 13 23 16.