It was a great day for Dubbo yesterday with the Premier, the Hon. Mike Baird, MP officially opening the new clinical services building at Dubbo Hospital. This was a jointly funded project with the NSW Government providing $84.2 million and the Australian Government contributing $7.1 million for Stages 1 and 2 of the Dubbo Hospital Redevelopment. We were also fortunate to have the NSW Minister for Health, the Hon. Jillian Skinner MP present alongside our State Member, Deputy Premier the Hon. Troy Grant MP.
Not long after my election as Mayor I well remember sitting down with Minister Skinner asking for the State Government to commit more funds to the hospital. At that stage they had committed to Stages 1 and 2 with no further commitment of funds or a timeline. I asked the question in several ways but in the end the Minister made it very clear to me – there was no further funding that would be available in the first term of her government for the Dubbo Hospital – but if they were re-elected that would open up further opportunities. In January 2015, during the election campaign, the Minister was true to her word and made a commitment of $150 million to develop Stages 3 and 4 of the hospital.
Part of the significance of the hospital in the Dubbo landscape is that Health and Social Services is our largest single employment industry with 16.6 per cent of our employees (interestingly enough retail is number two with 13.3 per cent). Our hospital also takes in 50 per cent of admissions from outside the 2830 postcode – mainly to the west and north-west of Dubbo. We continue to see evidence that Dubbo is a service centre for the entire region – not a bunch of farmers which many people in Sydney assume we are (again it is of interest that only 2.8 per cent of our employment is in the farming sector).
I met with the new cohort of University of Sydney School of Rural Health students this week as they started their Year 3 studies in Dubbo. Having sixteen students in Year 3 and the same in Year 4 adds to the education mix in our city (our third highest employer with 10.8 per cent) but also encourages medical professionals to seek out regional areas once they have finished their education. Upgrades to the hospital are essential to continue to attract these students but also to attract medical professionals across a range of disciplines.
After meetings with Troy Grant and Dr. Ian Tiley (our delegate) this week and a brief discussion with the Premier, I am convinced more than ever that people power is all that is left to save Dubbo from amalgamation. I encourage literally ever man, woman and child to attend the public meeting at Club Dubbo on 4 February. #NoDubbington
Councillor Mathew Dickerson
Mayor of the City of Dubbo