THE LONG-TERM future of a key Wimmera health organisation remains uncertain, as Victoria's Health Minister has not committed to funding the state's primary care partnerships beyond December.
Jenny Mikakos told parliament on Thursday no decision has been made regarding the alliances' ongoing funding.
It followed opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier claiming the government had decided to cut funding for 2020, which the minister has denied.
The Wimmera Primary Care Partnership covers the Horsham Rural City, Yarriambiack, Hindmarsh and West Wimmera municipalities. It is one of 28 which the government established statewide in 2000 to better coordinate government services to manage chronic disease and prevent health problems.
Executive officer Geoff Witmitz said it employed seven people.
"We do sit in the background because we are a bit of an invisible organisation, but we work with councils, police, hospitals and community groups," he said.
"Individually as small rural health services we have small voices, but collectively it's a big voice, so that platform enables us to meet the health and wellbeing gaps better."
Mr Witmitz said one of the Wimmera Primary Care Partnership's key projects was mental health first aid training.
"We brought the agencies together to co-contribute to train the initial deliverers of that training," he said. "We started off with 11 trainers, but we've now reached three per cent of our population which is 1047 people.
"The community is the one driving that program. They want more information about how they can help their fellow community and show leadership. In the four years we've been hosting the training we've only had to cancel one session."
Victorian Primary Care Partnerships chair Kevin Feeney called on Ms Mikakos to categorically rule out defunding the organisations, ahead of an interim funding agreement with the state government expiring on December 31st.
Mr Feeney said statewide, PCPs had received $5 million for the year, and separate funding to deliver on projects.
"The normal funding cycle is from July to June, and this year we're only funded up to the end of December, so that creates a red flag for our organisations," he said.
"We want to know what the department will do to ensure the outcomes which PCPs are working towards are realised if they are not there."
Ms Mikakos told the Mail-Times the government was "looking across the board" to ensure every dollar was invested in priority areas, including delivering high quality health services.
"Now is the time to have a good look at what we could be doing better," she said.
A spokeswoman for the minister said it was "categorically untrue" there had been any cuts to health funding.
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