Next round of Regional Forums to focus on health, hospitals and local economies

JOINT STATEMENT

The largest investment in new hospitals and new beds in Queensland’s history will be on the agenda when community leaders, Ministers and MPs meet again next Monday for the next round of Regional Community Forums.

The seven forums will also seek to fast-track economic development opportunities identified in the first round of the 2022 forums in May.

Next Monday’s round of Regional Community Forums will be held in:

  • Cooktown (Far North region)
  • Charters Towers (North-North West region)
  • Proserpine (Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday region)
  • Barcaldine (Western Queensland)
  • Agnes Water (Central Queensland region)
  • Maryborough (Wide Bay-Burnett-Fraser Coast region)
  • Warwick (Darling Downs-South West region)

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the forums in May facilitated action plans for each region.

“And since then, we’ve released our $10 billion Queensland Health and Hospitals Plan, with over 3,300 more beds statewide,” the Premier said.

“Plus a $943 million program of rural and remote health facility upgrades.

“And almost two-thirds of capital investment in the budget is allocated to regional Queensland, as we plan for more jobs, better services and greater lifestyles throughout our regions.

“All of that ties in to the important themes from the May forums: including the importance of workforce attraction and retention, digital connectivity, health and wellbeing, and a legacy after the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games to support regional growth.

“I again thank forum members who’ve now had six weeks to further develop those ideas.

“Next Monday they’ll discuss action and projects for the second half of 2022.”

Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing Glenn Butcher said the forums continued to prove valuable in developing economic growth, good jobs and better services for Queensland’s regions.

“Each region has unique opportunities and challenges which have fed into local action plans, which aim to set a road map for the community, in partnership with government,” Mr Butcher said.

“The productive first round of Regional Community Forums for this year began developing these plans and now we return for a second round to expand them and develop solutions for each region.

“The process includes site visits to local businesses or initiatives, and listening to presentations from stakeholders linked to the key priority areas identified for each region.

“I’m a firm believer in ‘go, look, see’ and these forums will be able to give us insights into local innovations, which are already benefiting each local community and will also provide a deeper understanding of the local context of opportunities identified through the local action plans.”

New North-North West forum member, barrister and agritech start up co-founder Merissa Martinez said the Regional Community Forums were a great, grass roots initiative, with a direct voice to government.

“At the first meeting in May in Townsville, I was so impressed by the clear commitment to inform change,” Ms Martinez said.

“This was apparent from the seniority of the government representatives, Ministers and MPs attending, the willingness to entertain real-life solutions and to address the challenges of living in remote, regional and rural Queensland, in addition to the spread of delegates bringing experiences from all walks of life across the region.

“There is real opportunity here to celebrate regional innovation and excellence, support growth and remove barriers.

“I am excited to hear the innovative, practical and insightful solutions at the second meeting of the Forum in Charters Towers next week.”

Fellow forum member Rebecca Verzeletti said the forums provided an opportunity to engage with senior government leaders, MPs and Ministers.

“Having access to a variety of Ministers provided insight into how each government portfolio intersects and revealed the benefits when we have a cross-government response to local opportunities and challenges,” Ms Verzeletti said.

“Working in community services, I see the current impacts on access to primary health care, housing and how these are contributors to increased mental health distress.

“The first forum provided an exceptional opportunity for forum members to truly engage in open conversations, address concerns, collaborate and build partnerships.”

The Regional Community Forums are part of the Queensland Government’s Advancing Queensland’s Regions strategy, supported by the Office for Rural and Regional Queensland.

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