ACT Labor’s plan to support GPs and deliver $17 million more for community health care


On average, Canberrans are the best educated, best paid and healthiest people inAustralia.

Every year we are investing record levels of funding in our community, building a stronger local health system, investing in better schools and teachers, maintaining a strong local economy and creating more local jobs than ever before.

ACT Labor is building, through its investments in facilities and people, a health system with momentum, creating highly-skilled jobs, delivering new services and harnessing world-leading research to provide the next jobs, the next models of care, the next new therapies that will help us live longer, healthier lives.

We are committed to providing more services in the community close to where people live. As we rebuild our health and hospital system, we will focus on relieving pressure on our hospital campuses by providing more services in a community setting.

ACT Labor is building new community health centres and providing new services so that all Canberrans have easy access to high quality health services in their community. We want to continue this important work to help Canberrans access local health services when they need them most.

Quality primary health care and community care helps take pressure off our hospitals and delivers more services close to where people live. Providing a more community-based public health system ensures our services are convenient for people which means they are less likely to delay seeking assistance.

If re-elected, ACT Labor will provide $10 million to boost health services at the Belconnen and Tuggeranong Community Health Centres.

We will also provide $7 million for 30 additional community nurses and plan a new city health centre.

We will continue the highly successful GP Workforce program with funding already built into the budget to continue this support.

As part of this program, ACT Labor will establish a new Primary Health Care Liaison position in the GP Liaison Unit.

And ACT Labor will open a nurse-led Walk-in-Centre in the Tuggeranong Town Centre, and another in the new Belconnen Health Centre.


Policy costings

Over four years, ACT Labor will provide additional recurrent funding of:

  • $7.7 million to expand services at the new community health centre being built at Belconnen;
  • $2.5 million to increase community health services in Tuggeranong; and
  • $7 million for 30 new community nurses to provide better access to care for vulnerable people in their homes.


We will also:

  • Undertake planning work for a new City Community Health Centre;
  • Continue the highly successful GP Workforce program and have already committed funding in the budget to continue this support for General Practice; and
  • Establish a new Primary Health Care Liaison position in the GP Liaison Unit.


ACT Labor’s plan to support GPs and deliver more for community health







Belconnen Health Centre






Tuggeranong Health Centre






Community nurses












Note: Funding to continue the successful GP Workforce Program, including the new liaison position, has been built into the budget and therefore are not reflected above.


This investment is in addition to a range of other community health initiatives already announced by ACT Labor including:

  • $1.6 million to establish a new mobile dental health service for residents of aged care facilities and special schools;
  • $15 million to establish Nurse-led Walk-in Centres in the Tuggeranong Town Centre and within the new Belconnen Health Centre to provide free treatment of minor illnesses and injuries in our community;
  • $1.4 million for additional community-based nurses for women and children’s services; and
  • $1.3 million to expand the lymphoedema service with 2 new physiotherapists and an additional doctor.

In total, this funding combined with the newly announced initiatives will support the employment of at least 70 extra nurses, doctors, allied health and other health staff.

What will these new initiatives deliver for our community?

$7.7 million to expand services at the new community health centre being built at Belconnen and $2.5 million to increase community health services in Tuggeranong

We have steadily increased the services provided in the community through our health centres and we are building new facilities that will provide enhanced services.

We are currently constructing a new $51.3 million Belconnen Enhanced Community Health Centre. This centre, conveniently located in the town centre, will offer an expanded range of services than the current facility, for example renal dialysis.  This will be more convenient for many patients and also reduce demand for services on theCanberraHospital campus, freeing up space for those services that need to be provided at a hospital.

In Gungahlin, the ACT Labor Government has just opened a new $18 million Community Health Centre giving this fast growing region a range of conveniently located services for the first time.  Services now provided in the town centre include mental health; dental services; nutrition and diabetes education; women, youth and children’s services; nursing and podiatry clinics; alcohol and drug therapies, and physiotherapy.


We have also funded an upgrade and expansion of the Tuggeranong Community Health Centre with plans underway for the relocation of services temporarily out of the building to make way for construction.

This additional funding boost for Belconnen and Tuggeranong will see more health professionals employed in the community setting, and even more services provided where and when people need them.


$7 million for 30 new community nurses to provide better access to care for vulnerable people in their homes

Community based nurses support many of our most vulnerable people in their homes.  This funding will extend the existing community nursing program which is highly valued by those who need it.

Home support and treatment services assist people with chronic conditions or those discharged from hospital who have continuing support needs.

The type of home nursing services that Community Nurses provide includes medication management, wound management and dressings, support for cancer patients and end of life care.


We will also undertake planning work for a new City Community Health Centre

We are rebuilding and revitalising community health centres acrossCanberraas part of our ten year Health Infrastructure Plan.  This commitment will see ACT Labor commence the planning for a contemporary City Community Health Centre in the centre ofCanberra, replacing the existing ageing facility.


More support for our GPs

Due to the success of ACT Labor’s $12 million, four year funding package to support and grow our General Practice workforce, ACT Labor commits to continuing this program.  While the shortage of GPs is easing, ACT Labor will continue this targeted program to ensure access to GPs continues to improve.

Through this program, we will continue to fund:

  • The pre-vocational GP placement program (PGPPP) which gives junior doctors the opportunity to experience life as a General Practitioner by providing placements in the general practice setting and promoting it as a career choice;
  • The Education Infrastructure Support Grant Payments which compensate GPs for taking on trainee doctors by providing a payment to GPs who train and mentor third year ANU Medical School students on their urban general practice placement;
  • The GP Aged Day (GPAD) Service which provides a business-hours locum GP service for elderly housebound residents or those living in aged care facilities and whose usual GP is unavailable to make a home visit. The service is operated by the ACT Medicare Local under a Service Funding Agreement with the Health Directorate;
  • The Peter Sharp Scholarships program which aims to address regional Indigenous health issues by increasing enrolment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students; enable students to participate in enriching activities such as cultural immersion programs, research, conferences and workshops; and providing a targeted financial support program. The scholarships program consists of three initiatives including Indigenous health stream placement scholarships, Indigenous student recruitment initiatives and the Peter Sharp Scholarship; and
  • The GP Development Fund which provides grants to general practices for initiatives that attract and retain the GP workforce. This includes grants for infrastructure, teaching and learning initiatives, and innovative ideas that increase access to general practice.



A re-elected ACT Labor Government will also allocate part of this funding package for a new part time Primary Health Care Liaison position and explore options for expanding the GPAD service.

The GP Liaison Unit at Canberra Hospital aims to enhance communication between the hospital and general practices and create partnerships to facilitate the smooth transfer of patient information between the acute and primary health care settings. This delivers improved outcomes for patients and a more seamless journey between the hospital and home. The flow of information to health care providers outside the hospital environment ensure patients’ treatment is continued in a way that aids their recovery and minimises unplanned readmissions. The additional part-time position will act as a contact point for the wider primary health care workforce, strengthening the interface between the Canberra Hospital and primary health care providers such as physiotherapists, psychologists, pharmacist and other allied health professionals.

A re-elected ACT Labor Government will also investigate expanding the GPAD service to provide ‘nursing home GPs’. Such a program would ensure that every patient entering a residential aged care facility is connected with a GP. Residents of aged care facilities are required to have a GP to continue their care before they will be accepted into a nursing home.  At times, when there is no GP available to take on the patient, elderly patients ready for release from hospital into a nursing home are unable to be discharged until an accepting GP can be identified. A designated GP service would enable new patients to be accepted as well as allow other patients’ care to be transferred to the designated GP should that be required or desired.


Walk-in Centres

ACT Labor has always been committed to providing services to our community, in our community.  It was ACT Labor that established the first public nurse-led Walk-in Centre in the country, giving Canberrans access to fast, free treatment for minor illnesses and injuries.  This service has proven enormously popular with more than 82% of people saying they would use the services again and 84% saying they would recommend it to family and friends.

We have learned much from this experience and commit to doubling funding for nurse-led Walk-in Centres over the next term, expanding the model to Belconnen and Tuggeranong.  We will build one in the Tuggeranong Town Centre, and another co-located with the new Belconnen Health Centre.  We will work closely with Medicare Local about the operations of these new, free health services for north and south Canberrans.  This will increase the options available in the community for one off treatment for minor health problems.


What will be the benefits of increased community services and our GP workforce initiatives?

The ACT offers a comprehensive suite of community based health services such as child and maternal health, dental programs, allied health services, mental health and community based nursing. In fact, our community health services are the envy of other Australian jurisdictions.

Once we have completed our program of rebuilding and upgrading our community health centres, residents right across Canberra will have access to contemporary, state-of-the art facilities offering an expanded range of services. This will mean health services are more conveniently located close to where people live and work. By moving some services into the community, it will also give us additional space on our hospital campuses in order to continue our program of growing and expanding our hospital based services. This increased investment will help meet growing demand for services in the community setting and enable more people to access these services.

A strong primary health care sector also supports our goal of reducing the demand for hospital care by providing early intervention and treatment.