A GROUP concerned at the potential loss of services provided by Castlemaine District Community Health has vowed to keep up the fight for increased funding.
About 70 people attended an emergency meeting of Friends of CHIRP, an independent group supporting the community health service, at Castlemaine Town Hall on Monday night.
The meeting discussed the issues and heard from community members who will be affected by the cuts as well as shadow health minister Georgie Crozier and Liberal Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell.
Castlemaine District Community Health - also known as CHIRP - is considering cutting services to diabetes education and outreach, housing services, physiotherapy and drug and alcohol rehabilitation counselling.
Friends of CHIRP convener Warwick Smith said it was encouraging to see so many people at the meeting.
"It shows how important CHIRP is to so many people," Mr Smith said.
"The biggest goal (with the meeting) was to get attention bought to the issues to (encourage) state politicians to talk to us. They have been very arms length until now.
"But with a decent size meeting and newspaper articles and TV coverage, hopeful they will let us in the door to speak with them. If not, we'll keep the pressure up."
Mr Smith said CHIRP required an estimated extra $350,000 per year to continue running services as usual.
"I'm an economist and have dabbled in health economics for the work I do. I know the services CHIRP offer are no brainers," he said. "Not only should we restore the services CHIRP has lost but they should be increased.
"Somebody (suggested) fundraising, which would help us stall for time but you can't raise $300,000 a year, every year. It's chicken feed to the state government but for a community, it's hard to raise that amount."
Simon Fitzgerald, a member of Friends of CHIRP and former treasurer at CHIRP, hoped the meeting helped explain the financial issues facing CHIRP.
"In any business you look at income and costs," he said. "On the costs side, (CHIRP has) a high proportion of wages and salaries (83 per cent). The only way you can reduce that is cutting bums on seats.
"There's nothing built in for the admin costs of these business, it's a shoestring situation."
Shadow health minister Georgie CrozierCrozier, a former nurse and diabetes educator, said the meeting show the value community health services have to people.
"Critical health services to communities deserve the attention and funding that is required," she said.
Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos said CHIRP's sustainability was a matter for its board and management.
"Castlemaine District Community Health is not integrated with our public health services but is an independently-registered community health organisation," she said.
The Department of Health and Human Services provided an $80,000 grant to Castlemaine District Health in May 2019, on top of their annual budget, for strategic planning on how best to continue providing health and family services to the community.