A new health service for Mount Alexander Shire

The Victorian Government has approved the proposal put forward by the Maldon Hospital and Castlemaine Health boards to come together as one organisation.

The boards of Maldon Hospital and Castlemaine Health have welcomed the Victorian Government’s approval.

The new health service will officially commence on 1 March 2022. The integration follows more than 42 years of strong collaboration and partnership between the two health services.

Sue Race, Chief Executive Officer for both Castlemaine Health and Maldon Hospital, will continue in her role as Chief Executive Officer for the newly integrated organisation. Ms Race said that staff, residents and the community can expect the same excellent care they always have, with local teams focusing on the needs of patients and residents at each health service.

Ms Race said: “I’m excited to be leading this transition to a unified health service. Both Maldon Hospital and Castlemaine Health have a long history together and we share the same intense desire to serve our communities. We have listened carefully throughout the consultation process and understand the concerns and hopes of our communities. We have a historic opportunity to shape a better health system with the scale to think big about health and wellbeing with local teams in place to deliver individual care.”

Following through on the Maldon Hospital and Castlemaine Health boards’ commitment to develop a new overarching entity name, they have worked with the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, trading as DJAARA, to find a name. DJAARA’s Language Repatriation Officer, Harley Dunolly-Lee and the Djali Balak Language committee have provided their leadership to help define a name in Dja Dja Wurrung language.

The new overarching entity name will be ‘Dhelkaya Health’. Dhelkaya’s English translation means ‘Good/Being Healthy’. The choice of an Indigenous name acknowledges the Dja Dja Wurrung’s traditional ownership of the lands on which we live and work and expresses our gratitude to the Dja Dja Wurrung for sharing them with us.

The Djali Balak Language committee state: “Language is one of the most significant aspects of the culture and heritage of any group. Aboriginal culture and knowledge systems are largely expressed verbally, through vocalising place names, stories and songs. Aboriginal languages express not only culture, but also kinship, relationship to the land and water (oceans and rivers) and environmental knowledge. They contain a complex conceptual framework for the living things on the land, the landscape and natural resources. Without language, the link between Aboriginal people and Country would be compromised and the benefit of Aboriginal knowledge may be lost.”

The Minister for Health has appointed the new board of directors, which is made up of a balanced mix of directors from both Maldon Hospital and Castlemaine Health.

Ms Vanessa Healy, previously Maldon Hospital Board Chair, has been appointed to the combined board as a Board Director. Ms Healy said “I am honoured to be appointed to the board of this health service. Working as one, our new organisation has the capacity and ambition to deliver the safe, high-quality healthcare our communities deserve well into the future. I am excited about advancing community health and wellbeing in Mount Alexander Shire and will continue listening to staff, volunteers, patients and residents as our work progresses.”

Ms Peggy Ronnau, previously Castlemaine Health Board Chair, has also been appointed to the newly combined board as Board Director. Ms Ronnau said: “The extensive consultation has shined a light on our individual strengths and how we can work as one to build on our legacy of cooperation. We have great relationships, strong connections with our communities and long-standing and trusting relationships with those we care for. This is a move from strength to strength.”

On day one, patients, residents and families will not experience any changes to the services they receive or the staff delivering their care. There will be no significant changes to how each local health service is run day to day.

Over time the integrated organisation expects to find natural opportunities to combine and grow services. The first key step in this process will be development of a new strategic plan. Staff, volunteers and communities will be consulted to help define a shared vision and plan for the future.

Staff and community engagement have already helped define clear commitments that will be embedded in the integration and strategic planning process:

  • Mountview Home and Jessie Bowe House at Maldon Hospital will continue to provide the same excellent care they always have
  • A new entity would ensure local fundraising for each health service will go directly to that local service
  • Volunteers will continue to be recruited and work locally
  • There will be no loss of services at either of the health services as a direct result of amalgamation
  • There will be no reduction in staffing levels as a direct result of the amalgamation and people will be able to work when and where they work today, unless they wish to change
  • Local representation on the Board for both communities would be strongly recommended to the Minister for Health, and local Community Consultative Committees in Maldon and Castlemaine would be continued
  • The local community will continue to have opportunities to participate in engagement about the future of the unified health service provider
  • Clients and patients will continue to have choice as to where they access care
  • Maldon Hospital and Castlemaine Health will remain as registered business and trading names, however there will be an overarching new entity name.

Ms Race said: “By working as one we can ensure the patient and resident care these much-loved health services deliver is sustainable well into the future. Together as one we can enhance services while reducing the need for patients to travel. We can create career pathways for staff and make more efficient use of resources to more effectively deliver frontline services. The future is bright for health and wellbeing in the Mount Alexander Shire.”

Further information on the transition to one organisation and how the community can get involved in helping to shape the future of health in Mount Alexander Shire will be published at www.castlemainehealth.org.au and www.maldonhospital.org.au


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