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Mitch Williams MP tabled petition in parliament

Member for MacKillop, Mitch Willams MP

Member for MacKillop, Mitch Willams MP

by S Lowe 5 THE FM newsonline WattleRangeNow

Member for MacKillop Mitch Williams MP  tabled the Petition to save hospital services at the Millicent and Penola Hospitals on Wednesday 25th September and told 5 THE FM he was also able to address the House on behalf of the communities he represents.

Mr Williams said, ” I tabled the petition urging the Government to reinstate the Millicent Obstetric Services and to guarantee the retention of services at the Millicent and Penola Hospitals in the House on 25 September. I took the opportunity during the grievance debate to speak to the petition, unfortunately I had to conclude my remarks at the expiration of five minutes but I was pleased to be able to make the point that a viable suite of services in the Millicent Hospital is important to retaining the services of GPs and other health professionals. ‘

 The petition signed by 3,913 residents of Millicent, Penola and the Wattle Range district requested the House to urge the government to reinstate obstetric services at the Millicent Hospital and to guarantee health services will not be further reduced at both the Millicent and Penola hospitals.

 The following is the transcript of Mr Williams address to Parliament in full:-  

‘Today a petition was tabled in the house from 3,913 of my constituents who are petitioning the house over the delivery of health services, particularly in the towns of Millicent and Penola in my electorate. We are all aware of what has happened in the community at Keith in the northern part of my electorate over the last three years. It took three years for the government to understand that it had got the Keith situation terribly wrong. It took three years for the government to understand that they were being delivered a very cost-effective service by the community of Keith through their privately-run community hospital, and it took three years for the government to come to its senses and restore some level of funding to make sure that the doors of that unit stayed open.

We all know how difficult it is maintaining health services in country towns, and one of the things that aids and assists us to maintain health services in country towns is having well‑resourced and well-functioning local hospitals, because this attracts trained professional staff, particularly doctors and highly-trained nursing staff, into those country communities and gives an incentive for those highly-trained specialists to stay and work in those country communities.

We have a situation in Millicent where we have had birthing in the Millicent hospital for probably well over 100 years and we find now that that service has been put under threat by Country Health SA. I just want to detail to the house a couple of things that have been happening in my local community, my home town Millicent, which I think is threatening the delivery of health services to that very important town in rural South Australia.

That is why almost 4,000 of my constituents in the town of Millicent, which only has a population of around 5,000 people, have signed this petition to the house. We know that over a period of some two years, Country Health SA has been negotiating with the doctors at the Millicent Medical Clinic over an ongoing contract to supply services, particularly through the hospital, and these sort of contract negotiations have been going on in other parts of the state as well.

We find in June this year, when things were coming to a head and pressure was being applied to the doctors, there was talk around the district that the birthing unit at the Millicent hospital was going to be downgraded and birthing mothers would be told to attend the Mt Gambier hospital. This was denied by Country Health SA time and time again during June, and even when Country Health SA reps were talking to the local council. At one of the council meetings of the Wattle Range Council in Millicent, they assured the council that there was no move to downgrade the birthing unit services in the Millicent hospital.

A few weeks after that it became evident, through a leaked letter, that Country Health SA had put in writing, in a letter some weeks before making these statements, that there was a plan to shift birthing from the Millicent hospital to Mount Gambier. The community were clearly misled about the intent of what was going to happen in that community. No wonder people came out in droves to sign this petition and petition this parliament.

One of the excuses Country Health gave for this move was that mothers were choosing to go to Mount Gambier rather than have their babies in Millicent. Birthing numbers have fallen from about 110 per year to just 35 in the last 12 months, but the reality is that Country Health SA has directed that first-time mothers cannot birth at Millicent because of some perceived high risk. According to the then acting head of Country Health SA, this was apparently because of a directive from Health SA.

The reality is that the Australian College of Midwives has a completely different attitude towards first-time mothers and does not assess them as having any higher risk than any other mother who does not show any other risk symptoms in the normal assessments as they are going through the gestation of their baby. We have had a deliberate move by Country Health SA to shift birthing from Millicent to Mount Gambier and now, lo and behold, we have this claim that, ‘Because the number of births in Millicent have dropped so dramatically, why should we continue the service?’ No wonder we are having difficulty attracting well-trained doctors who want to work in that community to carry out the services that the community is demanding.’

Coming events

by SLowe 5 THE FM newsonline WattleRangeNow

Kalangadoo Ladies Night Out:

will be held on Friday 27th September at the Kalangadoo Hall,  and is to raise funds for the Kalangadoo Kindy. There will be demonstrations of jewellry, kitchen wear, underwear and body care. Admission includes supper.Tickets are available at the Kalangadoo shop, the Kindy or on facebook “Kalangadoo Kindy Ladies Night Out”  Contact Rochelle 0427 794 982 or Hilde 0488 759 695

Millicent Legacy Market:

will be held on Saturday 28th September at the RSL Hall North Tce, Millicent from 9-00 am to 12-30 pm. Large variety of stalls, sausage sizzle and devonshire teas available. For details please call 8733 3304

The Leukemia Foundation Light the Night event:-

will be held on Sunday 29th September 2013 on the Beachport Foreshore. There will be a sandcastle competition, entertainment,  the Blessing of the Fleet,auction, and the Light the Night walk along the foreshore.  The event begins at 1-45pm and finishes at 9-00 pm.  All funds raised will go the Leukemia Foundation. This is a pet free event.  For further information please call Sharom on 0428 428 049

Seniors Month events:

Tuesday 1st October 2013 – Walk Heart Foundation – on every Tuesday

9 am – Millicent Hospital – Come and meet the others walkers and enjoy a great walk. Wakers to gather outside the physio building. If you can keen you can join the group that does the longer walk or you can start by doing the shorter walk. Either way you will feel great afterwards! FREE

Tuesday 1st October 2013 – Official Opening of Celebrate Seniors Month @ Civic and Arts Centre – live music, fashion parade and delicious light luncheon

10:30 – 11.00 am – Come, listen or sing along from the performance by the children of the Glady’s Smith Early Learning Centre together with pianist Joycelin Walker. Venue is at the Civic and Arts Centre, Millicent. FREE

11.30 am – Official opening of the Celebrate Seniors Month by Wattle Range Council Mayor – Peter Gandolfi.

A morning filled with live music and a delicious light lunch supplied. Please contact Millicent Council Office on 8733 0900 to register your attendance by Wednesday 25th September 2013 for catering purposes.

11:45 am – Fashion Parade by Target – Fashion clothing for both men and women.

12 noon – Lunch to be served – Courtesy of Shearers Cook Café. Enjoy a delicious light lunch. Thank you to Kay for her generous contributions.FREE

Thursday 3rd October – Men’s Shed Open Day and morning tea

10 am – 3 p.m. – Community Hub, Fifth Street, Millicent – Everyone is welcome to attend.  Warm cinnamon doughnuts for morning tea  by the Millicent Lions Club. . FREE

Friday 4th October 2013 – Easy Moves for Mature Age Session

10 am – 11 am – on every Fridays. Sessions are held at the Uniting Church Hall, George Street, Millicent. Come and enjoy a gentle movement exercise. For more information please contact Karen at Resthaven on 87 33 3311. October sessions are free for new Members. FREE

Saturday & Sunday 5th & 6th October 2013 – Beachport Market October Long weekend, Kalangadoo Farmer’s Market & Millicent Orchid Society Spring Show 9am – 1 p.m. – Beachport Market Day  For more information please contact the Beachport Visitor’s and information Centre on 87 35 8029. FREE EVENT

10 am – 1 p.m. – Kalangadoo Farmer’s Market – on every Saturday – Eliza Street, Kalangadoo –  For more information, please contact 8739 3245. FREE ENTRY

10 am – 4 p.m. – Millicent Orchid Society Spring Show, St Alphonsus Hall – Commencing Saturday 5st October till Monday 7th October 2013 – Annual show –come and see the many colours up to 120 different colours of orchids and there will be up to 30 different sorts of orchids on show. There will be prizes and trophies for the different orchids – grand and reserve champion prize. Entry – Donation


The Millicent Orchid Show:-

will be held on Saturday 5th October to Monday 7th October at the St Alphonsus Hall from 10-00 am to 4-00 pm daily. There will be potting demonstrations each day.

Beachport Open Gardens:-

will be held on Saturday 5th October at The Walled Garden, Helen and Mike Hannagan Railway Tce and The Secret Garden Janet & Ian McArthur on Railway Tce but entry is via grassed track off Gold Course Rd.

There will be home-made soup and and plant stall. Proceeds will all go to the Beachport Lions Club

Rendelsham Sports and Progress Association:

School holiday family fun evening will be held on Sunday 6th October at the Rendelsham Hall. Family and friends welcome, bring a casserole to share and there will be craft and games for the children and if weather permits there will be a town walk.  Contact Dawn on 8735 4330, Lyn 8735 4240

The Combined Churches Christmas Fete:-

will be held on Friday 11th October at the St Alphonsus Hall. There will be a variety of stalls and morning teas will be available. The Combined Churches Christmas Appeal will be launched at this event.

The Combined Churches Christmas Appeal:-

will be launched on Friday 11th October at the Christmas Fete at St Alphonsus Hall. Last year 140 families were assisted by this appeal and the Lions Appeal Boxes will be in Fosters Foodland, Woolworths and IGA where non-perishible food items can be donated.

For further information, please call  8733 2865

Rendelsham Sport and Progress Association:-

Friendship Group’s next regular meeting is on Monday 14th October at the Rendelsham Hall, beginning 2-00 pm to 4-00 pm. Bring a plate of afternoon tea to share. Contact Dawn on 8735 4330 or Lyn on 8735 4240

Boneham Cottage Homes Inc. Fete:-

Saturday 19th of October Boneham Cottage are holding a fete with numerous stalls, produce and plants, coffee and food available.
The Fete begins at 10-00 am.

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Man charged for drink driving near Millicent


A 32-year-old man from Millicent has been reported for drink driving, after he allegedly returned a positive reading of 0.60. The man was stopped on Southern Ports Highway near Millicent in relation to a lighting offence.

He was issued with an expiation notice for exceeding the prescribed concentration of alcohol.

Police also reported a 28-year-old man from the Limestone Coast, following a complaint about his driving on Penola Road, Mount Gambier.

The man, who had been suspended from driving for medical reasons, was located at Church Street, Penola, and charged with driving while suspended.

He will appear in court at a later date.

Source: SAPOL