Australian gov’t announces health funding

Canberra, March 14 ( /Xinhua) The Australian government has announced additional funding for health services in flood-affected comm ties. Health Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday said the federal government would spend an additional 35.9 million Australian dollars (26.2 million U.S. dollars) on vital health services and additional mental health services for people impacted by the catastrophic flooding in the country’s northeast. The package includes 31.2 million Australian dollars (22.7 million U.S. dollars) over the next two years for mental health support, 16.6 million Australian dollars (12.1 million U.S. dollars) of which will go towards meeting immediate psychological needs. Tens and thousands of buildings across northern New South Wales (NSW) and southern Queensland (QLD) were destroyed by the floods, which killed at least 20 people. Hunt said in a statement that the impact of the floods would be long-lasting. “Importantly, this package of support will be provided over the next two years because we know support won’t just be needed in the next few months, and people living in flood-affected regions of QLD and NSW will need substantial ongoing support,” he said. The Opposition Labor Party on Sunday continued its criticism of the government’s response to the flood crisis. Brendan O’Connor, Labor’s defence spokesperson, said the Australian Defence Force (ADF) should have been deployed to affected areas quicker. “Everyone who was watching their television screens during the course of these terrible events knew that this was unprecedented and needed immediate action,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corporation television. “More should have been done earlier and more ADF personnel deployed quicker to help the comm ties of northern NSW, southeast Queensland.” /XINHUA GNK

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