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Annual Report 2021

Chairs Report

Richard will highlight that COVID-19 remained at the forefront of our minds over the past year. However, as I reflect on my time as Chair of the PHN it is evident that COVID-19 is only the latest in a long list of challenges that face the primary care sector.

Over the last few years many of the communities in our region have been devasted by natural disasters ranging from drought, bushfires, floods and recently a mouse plague that wreaked havoc across the Northwest slopes and plains.

These challenges demonstrate that the primary health care sector plays a critical role in providing critical support to individuals and communities through testing times.

Over the past few years our PHN has funded several hundred community-led mental health projects that have supported the social and emotional wellbeing of individuals and communities across our region.

When we launched the Empowering our Communities grants in early 2019, we were overwhelmed with the response we received with proposals to support communities in a period of unprecedented drought. It is abundantly clear that the heartbreaking tales of resilience that we heard from our rural communities is now being repeated across all our communities, urban and rural, as we battle to overcome the impacts of COVID-19.

It has been heartening for me and the Board over the last year to see that the PHN has demonstrated that it has the flexibility and agility to pivot quickly to rapidly support the primary health sector.

Unfortunately, we know that natural disasters will continue to occur and create an impact on the health and wellbeing of our communities. Our PHN remains committed to supporting our communities during these challenging times.

I was delighted to attend our inaugural Quality and Innovation Awards in June. It was clear from the breadth and quality of the nominations at the Awards that our local primary health care workforce has the capability to meet the many unforeseen challenges that no doubt lie ahead.

Once again, I have been impressed by the level of commitment and innovation that has been maintained during a year that has thrown up many challenges.

As Chair, I would like to express my thanks to my fellow Board Directors, our Executive and staff for their hard work, professionalism, and passion over what has been an extraordinarily challenging year.

JANE SCHWAGER AO
Chair

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