You might be interested in how the Phillip Island Medical and Health Action Group (PIMHAG) came about. (Information supplied by founding members, Gabby Fenech and Jock McKechnie.)
It started in 2008, the year that the Warley Hospital was closed, after 85 years on Phillip Island. Jim West, a shire councillor and local builder, approached Jock McKechnie, the former shire engineer, and said “This island needs a medical centre.” Jock agreed and then they contacted the late Tom Beaton, a local businessman, who also came on board.
Their first meeting was held at the Cowes RSL and, for a short period, included Allen Brown, the State member for Wonthaggi. These four started the ball rolling. Needing more bodies, two more locals were invited to join the group – farmer and long time resident, Cefyn Price and tradesman, Gabby Fenech.
Meetings were held every 2 weeks. The group was made up of a concerned group of local residents who adopted the name Phillip Island Hospital Action Group. The group was keen to make the public aware of what was happening and to get publicity and support for the group and its goals.
Then, in 2010, the Federal member for Flinders, Greg Hunt, made a commitment for the Federal Government to provide $2.5 million for a hospital or medical hub for the island community. These funds have now been received and have been set aside for the development of the medical hub.
The following year, a young Para Olympian, Amanda Drennan, joined the group and offered to swim around the island to raise the image of the campaign and to raise funds for a 24/7 medical service. Born on Phillip Island, Amanda was a bronze medalist in the 2004 Para Olympic Games, in Athens. In a fantastic effort, Amanda swam 66 miles around the island in a shark cage and raised $47,000, which is currently held in trust.
In 2012, the Bass Coast Shire Council agreed to facilitate the South Coast Health plan, which was to provide a single location for all health services to operate on Phillip Island and could involve Bass Coast Health, Bass Coast Shire Council and other funded health services. However, this plan was scrapped when the State Government refused to release the report.
After 3 years of disappointment, in 2014, when support had been promised and then withdrawn and nothing concrete had happened, the group organised a public meeting, which drew 700 people, all prepared to fight for a 24/7 medical service.
Then, in May, 2015, the Shire Council made a contribution to the project, leasing the land at 50-54 Church Street, Cowes, for a ‘peppercorn’ rent, to Bass Coast Health, for medical service provision. The land was valued at $1.5 million. In addition, the State Department of Health contributed $2.2 million and the Warley Trust, $1.1 million. Together with the $2.5 million from the Federal Government, the $7.3 million is to go towards building the Medical Hub on Church Street. Building is to commence in early 2017 and be completed by December, 2017. It is envisaged that it will be up and running by 2018.
As the medical services to be provided on Phillip Island do not include a hospital, the community group changed its name to Phillip Island Medical and Health Action Group, or PIMHAG, for short. The group has steadily increased its number of dedicated members to more than 280, plus observers, drawn from all walks of life from the Phillip Island community. Upon Jim West’s passing in 2014, Jock McKechnie took over as Chairman and Graeme Cock was appointed as Hon. Secretary/Treasurer. In 2016, Peter Paul was appointed Chairman and John Matthews, Deputy Chairman.
PIMHAG is now an incorporated organisation and invites everyone interested in the development of health services on Phillip Island to join us in our efforts.
PIMHAG‘s Facebook page is now up and running, where you can keep up to date with the latest news on the progress of this important project.
PIMHAG is extremely grateful to Cowes RSL for providing the group with the use of its Board Room facilities, almost on a weekly basis.
The tasks are far from over, and to see the Phillip Island Medical Hub up and running and the Bass Coast Hospital at Wonthaggi upgraded to sub-regional status, are still our main aims to increase the medical and health services to all in the shire, and Phillip Island, in particular. Hospital In the Home is now operating on Phillip Island, which is a fantastic addition in meeting the needs of islanders.
Please take time to check out the rest of the pages on this website.
PIMHAG members perusing the draft Medical Hub plans with Hon. Greg Hunt,
Federal Member for Flinders, June28, 2016