JIM Agnew fought back tears of joy yesterday as he celebrated the announcement of $5.5 million in combined funding for a new Community Health and Wellness Centre for Yamba.
Mr Agnew, a tireless campaigner who has been pushing to improve health services in Yamba, thanked the community for its support.
"I'm emotional today because it's something I started almost 12 years ago. I never gave in. I just kept chasing," Mr Agnew said.
Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Chris Crawford said the centre should be complete within 12-24 months.
The health centre will be located on Treelands Dr, adjacent to the community centre and ambulance station. It will provide a range of services to the community, including dental health, aged care, mental health services and physiotherapy, as well as providing a base for social workers, community nurses and a range of visiting practitioners.
"The focus for this new centre will be on wellness as a priority; helping people to maintain good health and keeping them out of hospital," Mr Crawford said.
"Jim Agnew has been such a champion for the whole thing."
Representatives from both sides of politics were on site to make the announcement.
Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek was joined by NSW Minister for Health Jillian Skinner, Member for Page Janelle Saffin, and Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis.
"Access to quality health care, which will meet the increasing demand for services and attract doctors and nurses to our region, is the number-one priority for residents in Yamba," Ms Saffin said. Funding will be split between Federal and State coffers, with $4.3 million coming from the Federal budget and $1.2 million from NSW.