Medicare Taskforce creates roadmap for community health

Released on 3rd February 2023

Victorian community health service, cohealth, has applauded the focus on multi-disciplinary, team-based care in the final report of the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce, and says that many of the recommendations in the report reflect precisely the model that community health delivers in Victoria.  

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel because right here in Victoria we have a model which works very well and is scalable,” said Acting Chief Executive, Christopher Turner.  

“Community health services keep people with complex health issues out of hospitals and acute care settings by offering multidisciplinary, team-based health and social services – which includes GPs integrated with allied health and nurse practitioners – close to where people live,” said Mr Turner. 

“We remove barriers by taking care to where people are, rather than waiting for them to navigate the system to find us.” 

cohealth says that place-based, integrated care that addresses the spectrum of social, physical and mental health needs must be core to the primary health reform, and that the Federal Government should draw on the expertise of the Victorian community health system.  

“The Strengthening Medicare Taskforce has recognised the need to transition away from a system of private practice GPs delivering episodic care in isolation and instead shifting to viewing GPs as part of a team who are responding to the holistic health needs of the community,” said Mr Turner. 

Mr Turner commended the report’s recommendation to provide targeted primary health care to under served and financially disadvantaged communities. 

“For people from refugee backgrounds, living in poverty due to systemic inequality or who are homeless, it’s about more than finding a bulk billing clinic, it’s about knowing how to find services that are sensitive to their needs, accessible, trauma-informed and culturally safe,” said Mr Turner. 

“People who experience disadvantage or have complex health conditions have the greatest health needs, yet face significant barriers to receiving care, so community health responds with targeted programs and services that remove those barriers,” he said. 

cohealth says it shares other organisations’ concerns that the report does not recommend any immediate actions to improve access to GPs.  

“The transition to multidisciplinary, team based care is not an overnight process, and it’s worrying that the report doesn’t outline any immediate actions to resolve the GP crisis,” said Mr Turner. 

What is community health? 

Community health services provide a range of services including GPs, dental, allied health, health promotion activity, chronic illness and disease prevention and treatment, mental health services, and community outreach.

Throughout the pandemic, Victoria’s community health services were central to vaccination efforts, community education and outreach to vulnerable cohorts. Community health services specialise in working with communities and people who face the greatest barriers to good health and wellbeing, such as people experiencing homelessness, people living with disability and experiences of mental ill health, First Nations people, members of the LGBTIQA+ community, refugees and asylum seeker communities, and people who use alcohol and other drugs.

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More on cohealth: 

cohealth is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all.  cohealth provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical, oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services.  


More information: or 0499 101 638


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