Proposed Letter to Federal Minister for Health and Aging

The Hackett Community Association (HCA) has been encouraging the establishment of a pharmacy at the local shops because there are many older residents of Hackett who find it difficult to get to nearby pharmacies due to lack of personal transport, poor interconnecting bus services or lack of mobility.  This had led to a pharmacist leasing one of the shops at the Hackett Shops and commencing to fit it out in anticipation of obtaining approval to operate the pharmacy. This is a major demonstration of faith in the Hackett Community as it is by no means certain that the pharmacy will be approved by the Federal Government due to the Pharmacy Location Rules.

These rules set out the minimum distances between pharmacies and the proposed Hackett pharmacy is 150 metres inside the minimum allowable distance because of the nearby Watson pharmacy. Fortunately, the Federal Minister for Health and Ageing can override these rules where the application of the location rules results in a community being left without reasonable access to the supply of pharmaceutical benefits by an approved pharmacist, and approval of the pharmacy is in the public interest. The Minister is however only likely to be persuaded to exercise her discretion in favour of the pharmacy through the demonstration of overwhelming support by local residents. It is therefore up to the residents of Hackett to show their support to ensure that the application succeeds .

Over 1,500 signatures have already been collected on petitions that were left at Wilbur’s Café and the IGA Store and this will certainly help demonstrate support for the pharmacy but based on other applications this is unlikely to be a sufficient demonstration of support to ensure that the application will succeed.

Writing to politicians as well as collecting signatures has been shown to measurably increase the likelihood of success. The HCA has already written to Local and Federal Members and Health Ministers supporting the establishment of the pharmacy and encourages residents to write to the Federal Minister for Health and Aging to increase the impact of this campaign.

Please download the proposed letter by clicking here for a Word Version , here for a PDF version or copy the text below.  Letters need to be posted by mid-March to ensure that they will be received in time to be incorporated into the approval process. Please contact Bruce Smith on 6249-1429 for further details.


DRAFT LETTER

Your Address

Minister for Health and Ageing
 The Hon. T. Plibersek MP
 Suite MG 46
 Parliament House
 CANBERRA ACT 2600

 Dear Minister

 Re:      Supply of Pharmaceutical Benefits to the community of Hackett, ACT

I am a member of the local community of Hackett. I understand that an application to establish a pharmacy at the local shopping precinct has not been approved as the nearest pharmacy at the Watson shopping centre is 150 metres inside the allowable minimum distance under the Pharmacy Location Rules.

I would like to make you aware that Hackett is the fifth most densely populated Statistical Local Area (SLA) in North Canberra and yet is the only SLA in North Canberra that has a neighbourhood centre which does not provide local access to the supply of pharmaceutical benefits.

I would also like to make you aware that there are many older residents of Hackett who lack of mobility and travelling to the Watson shopping centre for their pharmaceutical requirements is not a practical solution. Tthere is no direct bus route from Hackett to the Watson shopping centre. Residents either have to travel to Watson via Dickson, or walk more than a kilometre from the nearest bus stop.

I therefore request that you exercise your discretionary powers under subsection 90A(2) of the National Health Act 1953 to approve the pharmacy premises at 5/1-5 Hackett Place, Hackett, ACT.

Yours sincerely

Signature

Full name

Date

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5 Comments
  1. Everyone is welcome to their own opinion, and Jean, you are completely entitled to oppose the establishment of a pharmacy in Hackett, but your reasoning is offensive, uninformed and naive.

    I cannot believe that you think that the only reason elderly people cannot walk distances is because they were overweight or did not exercise enough when they were younger! I know many elderly people who, despite being very active in their younger days, cannot walk any kind of distance now because of pain caused by arthritis in their joints, osteoporosis, or because their knees or hips or back have deteriorated through old age.

    My grandparents, now in their late 80s, have never been overweight and have been active their whole lives and remain so now – my grandma attends aqua aerobics classes twice a week, and my grandpa uses an exercise bike daily. However, their bones and joints have worn out after a lifetime of use and they now have great difficulty walking very far.

    I fully support the establishment of a pharmacy in Hackett and will be writing to the Minister to give my support.

  2. The Hackett Shops had in the past 2 supermarkets, a Butcher, a Newsagency with Post Office, a Doctors Surgery and Chemist, a Fish and Chip shop. The mens Barber shop and Chinese Take away are both long time businesses. These all were operating at the same time.

    The school closure gutted the suburb and it is lovely to see the suburb finally regenerating.

    But it takes the community to shop local. To stop a Chemist from “REOPENING” is not going to help regenerate the suburb or support the local businesses.

    150 metres is not a problem if a local shopping centre exists I believe.

    As I have said, Hackett had a Pharmacy in the past, the same as Watson, Downer Dickson and AInslie shopping centres all at the same time.

    The need is still there and it never went away.

  3. Jean thank you for your comments.

    You may not be aware that the Hackett Community Association has been actively involved in the reinvigoration of the Hackett shopping centre for a number of years. We believe that an active local shopping centre is crucial to maintaining a sense of community and the establishment of a pharmacy has been a key component in our overall plan.

    A local pharmacy will not only improve the access to prescription drugs for many of our less mobile residents but more importantly increase their access to a health professional who can in turn provide ongoing guidance with their health issues. This is less likely to occur in out of suburb pharmacies because they are either too busy as in the case of Dickson or the development of longer term relationships is more difficult due to the sense of not being a local.

    A pharmacy will also provide a steady flow of customers who in turn will frequent adjacent businesses thereby increasing the economic viability of the shopping centre and it will increase the opportunity for increased social interaction for the less advantaged members of our community.

    We would also like to see the return of a local GP as was the case some years ago and the presence of a pharmacy should improve those prospects.

    Greg Haughey, Chairman,
    Hackett Community Association

  4. If you are interested in local shops then you may be interested in the Assembly inquiry into Supermarket policy. We have not yet had any submissions from community councils. THe link is here http://www.legassembly.act.gov.au/committees/index1.asp?committee=174 I think there is a good chance we would accept late submissions.

  5. Thank you for advising of the application for a Pharmacy in the Hackett shops. I disagree with this request and strongly refute the reasons contained in the proposal, for the following main reasons:

    1. There is a bus with bus stops no more than 200 metres apart all the way to Dickon shops where there is a very well-established, comprehensive Pharmacy which delivers medications to residents in the Hackett area.
      If because of immobility anyone needs a new bus that accommodates wheelchairs, etc., ACTION Bus enquiry line 131710 will advise when one is travelling on the No 2 weekdays/No 937 weekends that will accommodate them and their device.
    2. The No. 39 weekdays bus stop on thw NW side of Antill Street just a few metres up from Knox Street, Watson travels to both Watson and Dickson and has a seat at the stop. The weekend No 939 weekend bus stop is on the opposite side of Antill Road and has a shelter. Once again, ACTION Bus helpline 131710 will advise when a new wide-entry bus is scheduled.
    3. Any Pharmacy attracts break-ins from people with criminal intent even in busy night-time centres. Hackett is almost deserted from late afternoons, totally deserted at night. A very provocative invitation to some of the more irresponsile denizens of this area, of which we seem to have more than our fair share in our status as the 5th largest SLA area of Canberra, and which would become known to the wider community.
    4. Apart from people genuinely confined to a wheelchair for lack of personal mobility, unfortunately, there are very good health reasons to keep active, and walking to and from a bus stop, even slowly, would be very beneficial to inactive people who otherwise find themselves unwilling to unertake any activity. There is an on-going Federal health Department public information program about the necessity to keep as active as possible for as long as possible. In my admittedly lay opinion, if the persons who are not genuinely immobiled had walked and moved about more when they were younger and less overweight, tney wouldn’t find themselves in a position where walking anywhere is unattractive to contemplate.
    5. In the extreme but not wheelchair bound, your service provides a very good transport arrangement for housebound residents of Hackett.

    To sum up, the proponents have not made any case, in my opinion, for a Pharmacy to be establsihed in the Hackett shops. We are very adequately catered for in both Dickson and Watson.
    Thank you for your kind consideration.
    Jean Hamilton
    HACKETT ACT 2602

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