Country Health goes local

LEADERS: Minister for Health Stephen Wade and Barossa Hills Fleurieu LHN CEO Rebecca Graham at the launch.
LEADERS: Minister for Health Stephen Wade and Barossa Hills Fleurieu LHN CEO Rebecca Graham at the launch.

Country Health SA Local Health Network (LHN) has split into six regional networks, with the south coast falling under the Barossa Hills Fleurieu region.

As of July 1, new laws allow regional health services to make decisions locally by people who know the area.

Barossa Hills Fleurieu LHN is one of six new networks, with chief executive officer Rebecca Graham leading the way.

"Country Health SA was formerly the legal entity which covered all country areas, now there are six separate legal entities," Ms Graham said.

"The Barossa Hills Fleurieu will benefit from these changes, both now and into the future, with this new leadership structure bringing a stronger executive presence into the region."

She was excited to connect with communities to ensure the best health services were being offered.

"From my perspective, it's important to know people on another level," she said.

"The commitment came from the new Liberal government about having closer control and decision making to communities.

"It's about having better engagement with local communities, with people they know."

She said the Barossa Hills Fleurieu Governing Board had people with a diverse set of skills, and for the most part, board members had a connection to the region.

For Ms Graham, her connection is being born in the Hills.

She has also agisted horses in the Hills most of her life.

She was an intensive care nurse before she joined Country Health SA, and was the interim chief executive officer.

She said looking after the Barossa Hills Fleurieu LHN, which also includes Kangaroo Island, will be a challenge but one she looked forward to.

"It may not be geographically as big as the others, but it has 40 per cent of the rural and remote population," she said.

"We're the buffer between country and metro."

Ms Graham and the governing board will be consulting with locals to gauge what was needed, especially in terms of aged care services for the Fleurieu.

"We will be getting to sites, talking to staff, and hearing from people," she said.

Other areas included emergency services and departments, and mental health.

"Emergency services play a really important role in supporting metro services," she said.

"Mental health care is important across the board."

The new Chief Executive Officer of Barossa Hills Fleurieu Local Health Network, Rebecca Graham, said that this is an exciting opportunity for the region to continue to build on the successes of Country Health SA.

Chairing the newly-formed Barossa Hills Fleurieu Governing Board is Juliet Brown, and joining her on the board are Pru Blackwell, Carol Gaston, Dr Roger Sexton, Joe Ullianich and Robert Zadow, who bring a wealth of industry experience and expertise.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the separation gave power back to the regions.

"It would see more structure to provide for the needs of the regions, but collaboration across South Australia would continue.

"We listened to regional South Australia when they told us what they wanted to be part of improving the health and wellbeing of their communities," Mr Wade said.

"We are devolving decision-making and responsibility back to the regions so that local people have a greater say in the future of their local hospitals and health services."

For more details on the new Local Health Networks visit www.sahealth.gov.au.