WIMMERA Health Care Group will start design work for Wimmera Cancer Centre after the state government committed $1 million to the project.
Group chief executive Chris Scott said he was over the moon the government had matched the federal government’s $1-million contribution, announced in March last year.
“It now confirms our budget framework for the project and we can get on with the design and layout,” he said.
“The whole key was getting matching funding from the state government.”
Funding for the $3.5-million project includes the governments’ money, plus a community fundraising element.
Mr Scott said Rachael’s Wish, the community campaign for the centre, had a minimum $1-million target.
The appeal has raised about $750,000 so far.
“We’re hoping the excitement for the project will help us capture a little more than that,” Mr Scott said.
“It’s hard to put a line in the sand with the community and say ‘We’ve got to $1 million, so we’ll stop now’.
“The $750,000 is the money we’ve got in the bank, but there are pledges sitting outside of that.
“For example, the Wimmera Health Care Group Foundation has some more money to donate and has made a commitment, but it hasn’t paid that yet.”
Mr Scott said the $3.5-million budget was not set in concrete.
“We generally go with a budget amount, then see what tenders look like and do a cost plan,” he said.
“The tenders could be higher or lower than that cost plan, so there is a bit of flexibility.”
Mr Scott said the health care group had worked with an architect in the past few months to start developing ideas for the centre, which will be built at Wimmera Base Hospital in Horsham.
“Now we can firm up all of those and start to make a determination on the site,” he said.
“We are trying to look at a relatively clear site with minimal disruption to other buildings, because that will detract from the cost of the project.
“There are three potential sites we've had a look at, and it’s going to come down to the design of the site and what fits best.”
Mr Scott said the centre would provide better health outcomes for people across the Wimmera and southern Mallee.
“We are pleased with all the support we've had from the community so far,” he said.
“This centre will go a long way to improving our region’s five-year cancer survival rates.”
THE state government allocated $1 million for the Wimmera Cancer Centre in Wednesday’s state budget.
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy confirmed the news on her Twitter page shortly before the budget announcement in Melbourne at 1pm.
It comes after Ms Kealy and a range of organisations including Wimmera Health Care Group called on the state government to commit money for the centre, which will be built at Wimmera Base Hospital in Horsham.
The federal government committed $1 million for the project last year.
A community fundraising appeal, Rachael’s Wish, has raised more than $750,000 for the project.
Ms Kealy said the budget fine-print showed the state government would commit $1 million for the centre, with the federal government and community fundraising contributing $2.5 million.
She said the budget money was a win for everyone who had campaign tirelessly for the project.
“The Coalition recognised the urgent need for a cancer centre in the Wimmera by committing $1 million in March last year,” she said.
“While it is disappointing the Andrews government dithered for over a year to deliver this vital funding, we can now work towards making the Wimmera Cancer Centre a reality.
“The announcement is a real win for all of western Victoria, and our people can now be provided with access to cancer care facilities they deserve.
“I cannot express how deeply proud I am of our many organisations, businesses and individuals who have campaigned and fundraised to support the Wimmera Cancer Centre.
Our united local voice has made a real and meaningful difference to our great part of the state.”
The state government money is part of the $200-million Regional Health Infrastructure Fund.
The budget papers state the government will contribute $1 million for the cancer centre, with ‘an additional $2.5 million to be secured from the Commonwealth and other sources’.