Dental lab steps closer in Latrobe Valley

LATROBE Community Health Service is down to one last hurdle before seeing its long-awaited dental prosthetics lab and university training clinic come to fruition.

Labor honoured its $1 million pre-election pledge towards the project in this year’s budget and the health service now awaits approval of $2.664 million in federal money it applied for through the National Stronger Regions Fund.

“We’ve got our fingers crossed and we’re very hopeful if this is successful and it’s announced, it’ll be full steam ahead,” LCHS chief executive Ben Leigh said.

He said this week’s State Government budget announcement was “brilliant”.

The project, which will be based at the LCHS Churchill campus, is expected to create 80 construction jobs and 38 ongoing jobs including 12 dental prosthetists.

It will involve dental service delivery to patients, but also the manufacturing of dental prostheses.

“It will be a new student learning facility in conjunction with Monash University and Federation University,” Mr Leigh said.

The former Coalition Government allocated almost $1 million to the project, which was seen as critical to leveraging a Federal Government contribution.

But the health service later discovered the Federal Government would only fund half the project, leaving it with a $1.3 million shortfall.

The $1 million state budget allocation, combined with LCHS’s own resources, will fill that gap.

The project has been in limbo since the 2013 federal election, after a $4 million funding commitment by former Regional Australia Minister Catherine King was not signed off before the change of government.