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Increasing Access to Public Transport: Melbourne Medical Companion Project

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on March 30th, 2011

Source: Victoria Walks


Image: RaeA via flickr CC

It is believed that the new Melbourne Medical Companion Project will improve access for many people who live in rural Victoria, who are frail, disabled, ill, or anxious about their journey, and will encourage many people to consider using public transport to attend their health care appointments instead of using the family car.

Volunteer companions are now available to accompany people from the Flinders Street Station and the Southern Cross Station train and bus terminals to health care appointments in central Melbourne.

As part of the Melbourne Medical Companion Project, Travellers Aid volunteers will meet passengers at the Flinders Street Station and the Southern Cross Station train and bus platforms, and accompany them to their Melbourne health care appointments and back again. Passengers will have the choice of using taxis, trams or buses whilst in Melbourne, and the volunteer companions will be experienced in using all three modes of transport. It is believed that the new Melbourne Medical Companion Project will improve access for many people who live in rural Victoria, who are frail, disabled, ill, or anxious about their journey, and will encourage many people to consider using public transport to attend their health care appointments instead of using the family car.

It is Free

Mr Robert Bulmer (Chief Executive Officer, Cohuna District Hospital) said that “the new volunteer service will be free throughout the trial period, with the program designed to take the worry out of travelling to Melbourne for health care”. Ms Thorson (Executive Officer, Southern Mallee Transport Connections Partnership) added that “it was hoped that the program would be extended beyond its initial trial period of March – December, 2011, however this was dependent upon further funding”.

Help Is Only A Phone Call Away

People interested in accessing the new volunteer-assisted service when travelling to Melbourne should telephone Travellers Aid on 1300 700 399 at least 24 hours prior to their expected travel date.

Regional Assistance

If travellers also need a volunteer to accompany them on the bus or train from their rural town to Melbourne, then a small number of rural volunteers from the Buloke, Gannawarra and Swan Hill municipalities will be available from April, 2011. For more information, please refer to the Regional Companions tab on the Melbourne Medical Companion Project webpage.

About the Project

Thirteen transport connections projects from across Victoria have formed a partnership to develop this new trial service. The Cohuna District Hospital has undertaken a lead agency role in the new project (on behalf of the Southern Mallee Transport Connections Partnership), and Travellers Aid Australia have been engaged to provide the day-to-day coordination and delivery of the project.  Travellers Aid already provide a range of travel related assistance and information at the Flinders Street and Southern Cross Stations in Melbourne, and will now provide this additional volunteer service for people who are unfamiliar with Melbourne and its health and transport systems.

The new Melbourne Medical Companion Project is funded through the Victorian Government’s Transport Connections Program, which is a cross government initiative that helps communities work together to improve access and local transport options.

http://www.smtcp.com.au/medical-companions.html


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