Albury-Wodonga Health interstate agreement undergoing first major review

CHANGES: Albury-Wodonga Health chief executive Leigh McJames says the interstate agreement guiding funding and services has so far "held us in good stead".
CHANGES: Albury-Wodonga Health chief executive Leigh McJames says the interstate agreement guiding funding and services has so far "held us in good stead".

The agreement between Victorian and NSW governments that guides funding and services for Albury-Wodonga Health is being renewed for the first time.

AWH chief executive Leigh McJames said the update of the agreement, established when the health service was formed in 2009, would be finalised this year.

“What they’ll be looking at is areas that could be improved,” he said.

“The advice (we’ve put forward) is very much we want to emphasise the commitment of both governments.”

Both states fund the service but it is managed by Victoria – including the emergency department and cancer centre in Albury.

The integration of the AWRCC required a small update to the interstate agreement, but this review will be major.

Mr McJames said he didn't know details of what changes were being considered.

“The agreement has held us in good stead,” he said.

“It was identified that along a certain timeline it should be reviewed.

“It’s negotiated government-to-government and we’re not big players in that.”

A NSW Health Department spokesman told The Border Mail about the renewal, responding to questions about Nolan House.

“NSW provides Victoria with an annual funding contribution towards the provision of mental health services and minor refurbishment, maintenance and replacement works,” he said.

“In 2015, both governments commissioned a review of the mental health buildings which led to NSW providing additional funding for Nolan House upgrades.”

Funding for the unit has since been raised again with Victorian Mental Health Minister Martin Foley, who has his shared “concerns” with the NSW Health Department about Nolan House.

“Since I visited Nolan House last year, I immediately asked my department to raise my concerns with the NSW chief psychiatrist and department officials – as Nolan House infrastructure sits with them,” Mr Foley said.

“Locals deserve the right to access safe and modern health services.

“We understand that more needs to be done – and I will write to my NSW counterpart, who has the responsibility to pursue this.”

Mr Foley said $638,000 in infrastructure funding from the Victorian government had recently been announced for Border mental health services including Nolan House.

North East Border Mental Health Services director Michael Nuck flagged in October $1 million was being sought to upgrade the service.

Mr McJames said Nolan House was one of many services he hoped to see more funding for in the May state and federal budgets.

“There is a big list and Nolan House is one – we would love to get some funding to expand the Albury emergency department,” he said.

“Nolan House could do with some money for refurbishment absolutely, but it’s also among a whole range of other priorities.

“I know both governments are looking actively at Albury-Wodonga Health’s requirements and it’s a matter of seeing how that translates into the budget.”