Comments from WALGA President Karen Chappel:

 WALGA welcomes legislation being passed by the Federal Government yesterday to wipe HELP debt for doctors or nurses living and working in rural and remote Australia. 

 “As President of WALGA and as Morawa Shire President, this development is very welcome and will have a positive impact on communities in regional Western Australia, many of which are struggling to attract and retain health practitioners.

 “There has been considerable publicity in WA recently about regional Shires struggling to maintain basic medical services and being forced to offer generous incentives to attract and retain GPs, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, dentists and Aboriginal health workers.

“I know of more than 30 regional Councils in WA that are contributing in various ways to secure basic medical services, such as paying wages, accommodation, vehicle expenses, leasing and equipment costs, and upgrading infrastructure such as surgeries.

“The provision of primary health care services is a Federal and State responsibility. The fact that in many parts of WA, these services are now being provided in whole or in part by Local Government, means other services Councils are expected to deliver are impacted.  

“Reducing and wiping out the HELP debt with average savings of $70,000 for doctors and $20,000 for nurses is significant and will provide a great incentive for medical practitioners to live and work in regional communities.”  

Issued by WALGA Media and Communications 0448 896 435 or