People will still have a voice on council

WATCHDOG: Health Council member Russell Robbins says he will continue to speak out about health on behalf of the people of Bathurst. Photo: ZENIO LAPKA 112509zrobbins1
WATCHDOG: Health Council member Russell Robbins says he will continue to speak out about health on behalf of the people of Bathurst. Photo: ZENIO LAPKA 112509zrobbins1

IN the wake of the shock resignation of two of the city’s top health advocates, health council member Russell Robbins wants to assure the people of Bathurst they will still have a voice.

Mr Robbins has been part of Bathurst Health Council for more than two years and was a health department employee for more than 20 years. He now represents the Combined Pensioner and Superannuants Association in health matters.

Health Council chair Julie Ann Maher and deputy Graham Webster this week confirmed their resignation from the organisation.

Mr Webster said he was very disappointed that the health council has lost two very experienced and well-respected people, but understands their frustration.

“It is very difficult to put forward your position,” he said.

Mr Robbins has now decided to speak out about the secrecy within the health council.

“In the past only Julie Ann, Graham and myself have ever gone public with health matters, therefore I don’t think the health council is representing the people as they should,” Mr Robbins said.

He said he has been chastised on a number of occasions for keeping the CPSA executive and membership informed of what is happening in the health arena.

Joining the health council was a way he could be a voice for communities in the region as well as our ageing population.

“Instead I have been repeatedly taken to task for reporting back to the CPSA matters that were deemed ‘confidential’,” he said.

“Also under the rules of the health council only the chair can go to the media.

“I believe that since I also represent the people, I should be able to do that as well.

“Under no circumstances am I working on the Greater Western Area Health Service’s behalf,” Mr Robbins said.

With the chair vacated Mr Robbins now has concerns that procedure will not be followed when it comes to appointing an acting chair.

“I want to assure the people of Bathurst that I will do everything I can to make sure everything is conducted in a correct manner,” he said.