An alliance of over 30 leading community and health organisations today warned that country Victorians are missing out on financial help when travelling for their treatment, with many eligible patients in the dark over assistance they could be accessing.
Speaking at the launch of a new resource in Bendigo today, Alliance members, including Cancer Council Victoria, Kidney Health Australia and the Travellers Aid Australia, called on the Victorian Government to do more to make patients better aware of the Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme (VPTAS) .
Cancer Council Victoria Director of Support Services Nicola Quin said that she was aware of patients in country Victoria delaying or avoiding necessary medical treatment because of the travel expense involved.
“We want to make sure that every Victorian has the opportunity to receive the best possible medical care – no matter where they live, and no matter how much they earn,” she said.
“While regional Victorians tend to have poorer health outcomes than people in Melbourne, they have fewer specialist facilities and often have to travel for treatment, which adds to the costs, especially if they need to stay overnight.”
Regional Victorians are currently eligible for a rebate of 20 cents per kilometre travelled and $41 for each night’s accommodation if they travel more than 500 kilometres for treatment in a single week. Victoria’s current accommodation rate is the third lowest rate in Australia.
“We welcome the previous Victorian Government’s commitment to review the Scheme every two years and its work in reducing the processing time for claims. However, it is important that the current Victorian Government communicate this program to regional patients so those who need support the most are made aware of this scheme,” Ms Quin said.
“To better support country Victorians, the Alliance would like to see an increase in rebates to 30c per kilometre, and $80 for each night’s accommodation, as well as reducing distance eligibility to a simpler 200 kilometre per week cumulative threshold,” Mr Luke Toy, General Manager Public Affairs, Kidney Health Australia said.
The VPTAS alliance comprises: Cancer Council Victoria, Alpine Health, Arthritis Victoria, Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, Breast Cancer Network Australia, Bowel Cancer Australia, BreaCan, Cancer Action Victoria, Cancer Social Work Victoria, CanSpeak Australia, Chronic Illness Alliance, Country Women's Association of Australia (Vic), Diabetes Australia (Vic), Denise Horsey (GRICS consumer), Health Issues Centre, Health Social Workers Directors Group, Hearts4heart, Kidney Health Australia, Leukaemia Foundation, Mercy Health Lymphoedema Services National Heart Foundation of Australia, National Stroke Foundation, Ovarian Cancer Australia, Royal Flying Doctors Victoria, Sunraysia Cancer Resources, The Warwick Cancer Foundation, Think Pink, Travellers Aid Australia, Victorian Council of Social Service, Victorian AIDS Council, Victorian Farmers Federation.