To mark the start of National Families Week, almost 3000 Tasmanian families have signed a petition in protest at the Government's cuts to child health services.
The petition, organized by the Child Health Association of Tasmania, calls on the Labor-Green Government to retain child health and parenting services as a universal service, available to all Tasmanian families and children.
The Government's new model of care will see the Child Health and Parenting Service restricted to 10 per cent of vulnerable or high needs families, while the other 90 per cent of mothers with young babies will be referred to their GP. The changes will also mean New Parent Groups are replaced with 'coffee mornings' with none or limited involvement of child health nurses.
While the Liberals agree with providing intensive support to high needs families, it should not come at the expense or depletion of child health services for all Tasmanian families, particularly those in rural or isolated areas.
Referral to a GP will be an added cost for many families already struggling with cost of living increases. Further, many GP resources are already stretched to capacity.
Our child health nurses are located all around the State, have expertise second to none, and don't charge parents $75 for a 10 minute consultation.
They not only provide vital health checks and assessments, for the baby as well as the mother, but offer practical advice that is essential for any new parent.
To unravel an almost 100 year old service with a fabulous reputation to plug a budget blackhole is extremely short-sighted, and 2811 Tasmanian parents have today indicated the Government's cuts to this service are unacceptable. All children deserve the best possible start in life, and the Liberals join with these parents and the Child Health Association of Tasmania in rejecting these cuts to child health services.