Letters to the editor | May 14, 2018

Water security concerns for the Wimmera

Recent items have given me some niggling concerns.

One, we have had two seasons of above average rainfall, and yet our water storages are now below 50 per cent capacity.

Two, there is euphoria at the recent announcement of the stage two  of the east Loddon pipeline.

“The Labor Government is putting $40 million towards the $80.6 million project which will secure supply to communities, households and farmers in the South West Loddon region.

“Sections of pipe have been delivered to site in areas north of Inglewood, in preparation for commencement of construction, which will see the 110km of pipeline installed as part of stage one increased to a total of approximately 1300kms.”

Three, the east Grampians extension has been announced with much fanfare.

“Ms Neville joined with Dobie and Ballyrogan farmers, Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water, and Ararat Rural City Council at Mount Langi Ghiran for the announcement.

Ms Neville said the “game changing” project, when fully funded and completed, would give farms and vineyards in the Grampians region a more secure water supply and reduce costs and improve productivity.

“This project absolutely stacks up. I was in the region on October last year to release the business case,” she said.

“The business case said there would be $215 million in economic benefit if we invest in this project. There are about 1500 enterprises that would benefit from this project.”

Four, I seem to dimly recall our district’s bemusement when Langi Ghiran vineyard purchased a large amount of “growth” water (20GL seems to ring a bell) without any infrastructure for getting it to their vineyard.

Perhaps the east Grampians extension will provide this.

Perhaps it is just co-incidence that the minister announced the funding at their vineyard.

I suggest all the above is a natural result of an organisation (GWMwater) which derives income (kudos, salaries etc) by selling water, without any counter balancing measure to ensure the resource is not oversold (as it was in the past, as it is in nearly all water districts).

A guarantee by this organisation backed by the governments (who benefit from water sales via a dividend) to compensate existing pipeline users for any losses incurred should supply become limited would make me sleep easier.

To my mind, a two year drought is only a matter of when, not if.

Anyway, no-one else seems worried, so perhaps I am a nervous Nellie.

Bill Gardner, Laharum

Stroke Foundation welcomes state government boost

The Stroke Foundation has welcomed the Victorian Government’s $4.2 billion budget boost to health announced in the State Budget on May 1.

It has also called for increased access to emergency stroke treatment as well as improved access to health services for stroke survivors when they leave hospital.

It was encouraging to see the Victorian Government ‘getting things done’ by increasing investment in paramedics and hospitals.

It is now vital we ensure Victorians who experience stroke are accessing these services.

Victoria is home to some of Australia’s and the world’s leading minds in stroke.

We have some of the best emergency stroke treatment in the country, but not enough Victorians are accessing it.

Currently, just 39 per cent of Victorian stroke patients are arriving at hospital within the 4.5 hour window for clot busting treatment – treatment we know saves lives and improves outcomes for stroke patients.

Why? Simply because not enough Victorians know how to recognise the signs of stroke and call an ambulance.

Stroke can be treated and it can be beaten, but only if patients can access the right treatment F.A.S.T.

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to recognise the signs of stroke.

Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?

Arms – Can they lift both arms?

Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?

Time – Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call triple zero (000) straight away.

The $25 million Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund provides an opportunity to increase access to emergency and urgent care by ensuring someone in every Victorian household knows the signs of stroke.

It also provides an opportunity to give all Victorians a fairer future after stroke by connecting them with services and supports they need after leaving hospital.

I look forward to seeing more detail on the fund and working with Better Care Victoria to enhance access to services and improve health service quality and performance.

It’s time to ‘get things done’ to stop this killer disease devastating more Victorian families.

Stroke Foundation also welcomed the Victorian Government’s commitment to improving health services in regional areas, continued commitment to the State Disability Plan and mental health initiatives.

I look forward to working with Minister for Health the Hon. Jill Hennessy to ensure more Victorians avoid stroke, access appropriate stroke treatment and recover.

Sharon McGowan, Stroke Foundation CEO