15 May 2024

South Western Sydney residents will benefit from a boost in funding for additional Medicare Urgent Care Clinics and a network of new Medicare Mental Health Centres – two of the standout commitments from last night’s Federal Budget.

In handing down the government’s third budget, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said overall spending on health and aged care in 2024-25 would be $146.1 billion, including investments to strengthen Medicare ($2.8 billion), deliver cheaper medicines ($4.3 billion) and invest in a fit and healthy Australia ($1.3 billion).

The government committed $227 million in last night’s budget to increase the number of Medicare Urgent Care Clinics by 29 to 87, enabling more patients to receive fully-bulk billed urgent care from GPs or nurses in more locations.

A $361 million boost over four years to the range of free mental health services was also announced, including funding for 61 walk-in Medicare Mental Health Centres, building on the established Head to Health network. The centres will provide free, walk-in access to a psychologist or psychiatrist for adults with complex and high mental health needs.

This investment includes funding Primary Health Networks to work in partnership with general practice to provide mental health nurses and other allied health workers, for free wraparound care and support to patients with complex needs, in between GP and specialist appointments.

South Western Sydney PHN Chief Executive Officer, Dr Keith McDonald PhD, said the bolstering of access to bulk-billed services both through Urgent Care Clinics and new mental health measures was welcome at a time when the cost of living was impacting access to healthcare.

Dr McDonald said the Australia Bureau of Statistics found the proportion of people who reported delaying or not going to a GP due to the cost grew from 7 per cent 2022-23 compared to 3.5 per cent in 2021-22.

“South Western Sydney was lucky enough to benefit from the opening of a Medicare Urgent Care Clinic (UCC) at Campbelltown Medical and Dental last December,” he said.

“The UCC has made it easier for local residents to access free, high quality care from highly trained GPs and nurses, while freeing up emergency departments to focus on life threatening emergencies,’’ he said.

“We’re looking forward to future announcements about the expansion of the network to additional sites across our region.”

Other announcements of note in last night’s budget include:

  • $91.1 million to boost the supply of healthcare in areas of shortage, including Primary Health Networks supporting health services at risk of closing.
  • $882.2 million to ensure older people get the medical support they need. This includes funding to upskill the residential aged care workforce and provide virtual care services, and deliver complex care for older people outside of the hospital.
  • From 1 August 2024, people in residential aged care will be more likely to receive quality and continuous care from a GP, with GPs and practices eligible to receive quarterly incentive payments, on top of Medicare rebates, to manage the health of their MyMedicare registered residents.
  • $1.4 billion to upgrade technology systems and digital infrastructure across the aged care sector in preparation for the new Aged Care Act.
  • $38.8 million for people aged 45 to 49 to join already eligible 50 to 74-year-olds in screening for bowel cancer by requesting a free test kit.
  • $598.9 million for the continuation of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Program to enable vaccinations to prevent severe COVID-19 disease.
  • $588.5 million over eight years for a national low intensity digital mental health service, which is free of charge and free of need for referral.
  • $35.9 million over four years to extend terminating mental health measures, to enhance the delivery of mental health and suicide prevention services and to provide greater funding certainty for service providers. $21 million of this will fund the PHN Targeted Regional Initiatives for Suicide Prevention (TRISP) for 2024-25.
  • Indexation on Medicare Benefits Schedule rebates is expected to deliver almost $900 million in additional benefits in 2024-25. This is on top of around $940 million in additional Medicare benefits already delivered in 2023-24.
  • Students in nursing, midwifery and social work will benefit from the establishment of a Commonwealth Prac Payment. This will support them while they undertake mandatory placements required for higher education and vocational education and training qualifications. Eligible students will be able to access $319.50 per week during their clinical and professional placement periods.
20 March 2024

Find out about our 2024 Corporate Charity


The votes are in and staff have chosen Bears of Hope as this year’s recipients of SWSPHN’s Corporate Charity fundraising activities throughout the year.

Bears of Hope provides support and care for families who experience the loss of their baby during pregnancy, birth or infancy.

The not-for-profit organisation is managed by a dedicated team of bereaved parents, offering counselling, grief workshops, grief wellness groups and other resources.

Bears of Hope’s underlying belief is that:

“No parent should feel alone in their grief.”

“You have lost a precious little life, and you may need to lean on others to cope with the heartbreak and the grief. Our hope is that we can embrace you with a network of care and support so you don’t have to grieve in silence.”

Bears of Hope’s Support Services Coordinator, Kelly Merchant, joined SWSPHN’s March staff meeting to talk about her organisation’s work and the loss which moved her to seek out Bears of Hope.

Why is the work of Bears of Hope important?

Kelly said studies had shown grieving families felt safer and less isolated if they knew there were people to support them.

“That starts for us in the hospital,” she said. “We supply support packages to be passed on to families before they leave their baby, to give parents a little knowledge about our services and to make them feel supported from the very beginning of their loss.

“Within those packs there’s literature, a journal and information about our supports. These packs are sometimes left unopened for month. It’s all about choice. It’s all about when families feel ready.”

Kelly said Bears of Hope was started by – and is still led by – two women who had lost their own children and felt there were no services out there for them, and were isolated in their own loss.

“They found each other, and it started with the idea of going into a hospital and donating a bear to provide parents with the comfort of knowing that they’re not alone,” she said. “From there, we’ve grown into a nationwide organisation which provides counselling, workshops and information.”

Kelly, a registered clinical counsellor, joined Bears of Hope after experiencing her own losses – that of her nephew who passed away suddenly in 2000 and the full-term stillbirth of her second child in 2007.

“I came across Bears of Hope at their annual benefit ball and was drawn to the commitment they had to supporting parents,” she said.

“Our overall goal is to have an impact on parents’ grieving and healing by reducing the loneliness, isolation and anxiety.

“We like to think we can empower parents with information and support choices which meet their needs. That’s really important. Grief is such an out-of-control experience, something that’s not familiar to a lot of people, we want them to be able to feel that it doesn’t have control over them.”

What supports does Bears of Hope offer?

Kelly said through Bears of Hope, it was most often families who donated a bear to another family experiencing loss, in honour of the baby they were remembering.

But, she said, the bears were just one way Bears of Hope acknowledged, comforted and guided families through their loss.

“Cuddle Cots are a really amazing invention which we provide to hospitals to keep a baby cooler so parents can spend more time with them and have them in their room with them for longer,” Kelly said.

“Our approach to supporting parents isn’t about removing or curing someone’s pain. It’s about what we can do to help support them and to be able to give them a voice and a safe space to be able to talk about their child in a way that every parent is entitled to.”

Other supports include:

  • a support line, 1300 11 HOPE – grief counsellors available to listen with compassion and understanding
  • grief workshops – a national program of healing workshops on surviving grief and learning how to live through it
  • grief wellness groups – parent-led informal gatherings of bereaved parents who are seeking support or wishing to support others
  • awareness and fundraising campaigns – like Beards of Hope and Choosing Hope Walks – and participation in activities – like the Bowral Classic and Sydney City2Surf
  • online resources for health professionals – with therapeutic tips, brochures with resources for families and referral pathways

Kelly thanked SWSPHN staff for their support, saying Bears of Hope had a small, but “mighty” and hard-working team which continued to provide support to families at no cost through donations from larger organisations like ours.

Learn more about Bears of Hope

Visit our Go Fund Me page to donate
06 March 2024

South Western Sydney PHN welcomes the release of the report and recommendations of the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) into the Effectiveness of the Department of Health and Aged Care’s (DoHAC) Performance Management of Primary Health Networks. 

The report, released last week, highlighted eight recommendations for ensuring compliance with grant requirements, for the improvement of performance reporting to DoHAC, improved performance measures for the PHN program, IT systems for monitoring and reporting, data assurance, and evaluation by DoHAC into the PHN delivery model.

Seven recommendations outlined in the report were accepted by DoHAC, one was agreed to in principle.

SWSPHN CEO, Dr Keith McDonald PhD, said he welcomed the report and looked forward to more robust and transparent systems being implemented to support the reporting and evaluation of the work PHN’s do to improve the health of local residents and enhance and connect care to meet local health needs.

“The ANAO report was not an evaluation on the PHN delivery model or the effectiveness of PHNs, it was a report into the Department’s management of the PHN program as a whole,’’ Dr McDonald said.

“As all of you who work in local general practices know, SWSPHN is committed to continuous improvement in primary care and in our own organisation.

“We look forward to adhering to improved performance measures from DoHAC to show how we serve our communities, and the opportunity to better showcase the quality work we do and the value we add to the national health system.”

As a regional organisation, SWSPHN has a deep understanding of our community’s primary healthcare needs and can drive reform, integration and equitable access across the health and social care system.

As regional commissioners, we reduce service fragmentation and address unmet needs by working with our stakeholders to develop innovative models of care to address local needs.

“Our whole team is looking forward to working with the Department to implement the recommendations outlined,” Dr McDonald said.

01 December 2023

South Western Sydney PHN will close at 4.30pm Friday, 22 December 2023 and re-open 8.30am Tuesday, 2 January 2024 for the holidays.

Mental Health Intake will be unavailable from 4.30pm Friday, 22 December 2023 to 8.30am Tuesday, 2 January 2024. Last referrals 20 December to allow for processing.

On behalf of the board, executive and staff, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday.


Accessing healthcare during the holidays

Finding a GP

Many practices put on notice on their voicemail, website or social media channels advising of recommended contacts to access if your usual GP is not available over the holidays. Alternatively, visit the healthdirect service finder to locate a GP.



The new Campbelltown Medicare Urgent Care Clinic is open over the holiday season if you or a family member needs urgent care.

Access urgent healthcare that’s free, walk-in and available early and late. You don’t need an appointment or referral. You can walk in and be seen by a highly trained doctor or nurse in a GP setting.

The clinic provides urgent medical care for things like minor fractures, sprains, minor infections, respiratory illnesses, mild burns, severe stomach pains, or urinary tract infections.

Campbelltown Medicare Urgent Care Clinic


National mental health 24/7 helplines

Ph: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service
Ph: 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue Support Service
Ph: 1300 224 636
Kids Helpline
Ph:  1800 551 800
MensLine Australia
Ph: 1300 789 978
Alcohol Drug Information Service (ADIS) NSW
Ph: 1800 250 015
Family Drug Support
Ph: 1300 368 186
Ph: 1800 858 858
Head to Health
Ph: 1800 595 212
Phoneline is available 8.30am – 5pm weekdays (except public holidays).
While the Liverpool Head to Health centre is open every day, from 1pm to 9.30pm (Monday, Wednesday-Sunday) and 1pm to 5pm (Tuesday), at 203 Northumberland Street, Liverpool.
Head to Health is not a crisis or emergency service. For urgent support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or SuicideLine on 1300 651 251. If you need immediate help or are at risk of harm to yourself or others, call 000 now.






14 November 2023

SWSPHN’s Clinical Council is seeking interest from a Practice Nurse (PN) currently practicing within the region to nominate as a possible representative on this forum.

When selecting representatives for the Clinical Council consideration is given to:

  • Regional distribution
  • Gender balance
  • Cultural diversity

The Clinical Council is an advisory committee that reports to the Board of the SWSPHN. It reports on clinical issues to influence SWSPHN Board decisions with regards to the unique health needs of the communities within this region. The Clinical Council also works in partnership with the South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) and in tandem with the SWSPHN Community Advisory Committee.

A term of office on the Clinical Council for the PN representative is reviewed every two (2) years, with an option of one (1) renewal (i.e. a four (4) year maximum term).

The Clinical Council meets for two (2) hours bimonthly or more frequently if required. Meetings are hosted at the SWSPHN Campbelltown offices, with the option for virtual participation.
As a member of the SWSPHN Clinical Council, representatives are remunerated a standard rate for their participation.

SWSPHN Clinical Council Terms of Reference

Thank you for taking the time to consider nominating as a representative to be part of the SWSPHN Clinical Council. If you wish to express interest or have any questions, please contact Executive Assistant Melissa McIntyre at melissa.mcintyre@swsphn.com.au.

Closing date is COB Thursday, 23 November 2023.

EOI Notice

02 November 2023

SWSPHN representatives attended the 2023 Asia-Pacific Health Leadership Congress in Canberra from 10 to 12 October, with the congress focusing on practical explorations for health leaders on how to survive and thrive through current and future challenges.

Our Executive Manager Corporate Services, Christine Turner, attended the conference with Acting Mental Health and Alcohol and other Drugs (AOD) Team Lead, Bessie Berberovic.

SWSPHN often sends members of its leadership team to the annual congress with the aim of enabling better leadership and, in turn, healthier communities.

Addressing some of the strategic challenges and successes faced by our sector, directly assists SWSPHN to better support the health of the South Western Sydney community.

Both Ms Berberovic (pictured top) and Mrs Turner (pictured bottom) presented at the conference.

Ms Berberovic highlighted SWSPHN’s No Wrong Door initiative as a collective commitment between local government, non-government and community organisations to work towards a no wrong door approach built around recovery-oriented practice.

The signatory organisations to the No Wrong Door Charter ensure people experiencing severe and persistent mental illness, and their families, are supported by a coordinated service system.

The No Wrong Door initiative and Framework demonstrated how change leadership evolves over time by continually identifying gaps, building on existing resources and co-designing solutions with key stakeholders.

Mrs Turner presented to the congress on staff retention, highlighting SWSPHN’s excellent workplace culture and diversity.

She demonstrated how SWSPHN has identified opportunities for improvements to retain our staff who bring to the organisation so many valuable skills and knowledge.

She also talked about the actions we have taken to reduce our employee turnover from 29 per cent to 15 per cent over the last 12 months.

Mrs Turner included an in-house EVP (employee value proposition) video to complement her presentation.

She said the EVP video authentically showed the audience our organisation and our people, rather than just talking about them.

The feedback from the audience about the video was affirming.

“The comment that resonated with me most was when an attendee said how impressive it is that we have been able to create such a great workplace culture with so much diversity in our staffing profile,” Mrs Turner said.

She added there was much to take out of attending any conference.

“There is always self-reflection and improvement opportunities gained, in this case with my own leadership in healthcare, but also how I coach and mentor other leaders across the business to be able to continue to a make positive impact on their teams and the broader community through our work,” Mrs Turner said.

“One comment has stuck with me and stands true through my own experiences and observations of other great leaders: Great leaders rise above the chaos; they don’t get drawn into it.”


No Wrong Door initiative

No Wrong Door organisations come together to ensure that, regardless of which door a person enters through the system, they are supported to access an appropriate service to meet their needs. Find out more

What’s the EVP project?

The project aims to uncover our authentic employee value proposition – what it means to work at SWSPHN, why people should join our organisation and why people stay – with the aim of recruiting the right people to help our teams thrive and shape our employer brand. Find out more

09 October 2023

If you are passionate about improving the health of local residents, please express your interest in joining the South Western Sydney PHN (SWSPHN) Community Advisory Committee (CAC).

The CAC is a broad mix of community representatives who reflect the local community profile and key target groups. They provide a community perspective on primary healthcare in South Western Sydney.

CAC members are committed and informed people who able to converse on the health issues impacting the local community.

CAC members are focused on helping to achieve SWSPHN goals, in particular the goal of informing and empowering the local community to make better and more informed health decisions.

The Community Advisory Committee meets bi-monthly on a Friday, from 10.30am to 12.30pm. All consumer and community representatives on SWSPHN committees are reimbursed for their time. The Community Advisory Committee reports to the Board.

Please submit your interest by completing the form below by Close of Business, 13 November, 2023.

25 August 2023

South Western Sydney Primary Health Network (SWSPHN) has a deep and ongoing commitment to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health across our communities.

Our activities include commissioning services with our local Aboriginal community organisations; providing cultural awareness training to improve and support primary care; connecting with and planning Aboriginal health initiatives across South Western Sydney; and implementing a Reconciliation Action Plan across the organisation.

More than 20,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in South Western Sydney. Compared to our non-Aboriginal population there is a distressing gap in life expectancy and health outcomes. The socioeconomic determinants of health and wellbeing must be addressed.

The upcoming referendum proposes to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament in the Constitution. It represents an historic opportunity to implement the recommendations from the Uluru Statement from the Heart, delivered at the First Nations National Constitutional Convention in 2017.

Constitutional recognition will aid self-determination and help resolve the well-recognised inequalities facing First Nations communities.

In line with our commitment to closing the gap and improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and consistent with our Reconciliation Action Plan, SWSPHN endorses the recommendations of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and supports constitutional change to establish the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

11 August 2023

Wollondilly Shire Council has stepped up its ability to deliver services to those who need support, where they need support, in the event of natural disasters like bushfire and flood.

The local community had the opportunity to inspect the Resilient Wollondilly Van – one of the first in Australia – at the van’s launch at Picton Botanic Gardens on Thursday, 10 August.

The council will use the mobile recovery and resilience vehicle to provide immediate outreach support to residents and businesses immediately after the impacts of a severe weather event or disaster.

The van will be used to establish community recovery points, connect residents with essential services and supports, and distribute necessary short-term supplies.

Its customised fit-out provides storage and equipment, including solar panels, lithium battery, work station, satellite internet, fridge, defibrillator and generator, in addition to tea/coffee, hygiene packs, teddies, and information on support and services.

Deputy Mayor Matthew Deeth told the launch the van would be an invaluable resource for the Wollondilly community.

He said after the bushfires in 2019, “as always, our community rallied and were able to come and support all those who had lost their homes to get back on their feet very quickly.

“Out of that experience we saw an opportunity to deliver a recovery service more nimbly and to adapt and respond to any emergency that has hit the shire.”

Mr Deeth said it was critical that not only council services, but State Government services were delivered on the ground in real time.

“This is a model that can be used anywhere in Australia,” he said.

Anthony D’Adam MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Services, launched the van saying there were so many communities across the state going through a process of recovery.

“Here in Wollondilly you’ve had flood and fires over the past two years, which have added to the recovery needs of the community,” he said.

“Nearly 60 per cent of the Wollondilly landscape was subject to the path of destructive fires (in 2019-2020).

“Funding from both the State and Federal Governments through the Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund supported the delivery of the mobile hub. It’s a fantastic and valuable investment in the long-term resilience of your community.”

When the van is not being used for recovery purposes, it will be used for resilience building projects, including community education and awareness programs, and social programs aimed at increasing connectedness and opportunities for residents to connect with community services.

Find out more
10 July 2023

Earlier this year, in February and March, SWSPHN held a series of Local Health Forums throughout the region. These forums provided community members with the chance to share valuable feedback about the challenges and issues for people managing their chronic disease. 

The feedback we received during these events helped us to inform the SWSPHN Health Needs Assessment, which explores the priorities, service needs and gaps within the region.

Thank you to all who contributed. Below is the report outlining the findings from the Local Health Forums.

Read report

SWSPHN is now planning the next Local Health Forums with a focus on understanding barriers to improved mental ill-health. If this is of interest to you, please visit HealthChat for more information.