On the flipside, access to private funding allows Queensland Health to build assets that may otherwise not receive funding, says Debbie McNamara, STARS’ executive director.
“It also means assets can be built within shorter time scales, because it removes reliance on capital investment from public funds,” McNamara says. “We’re a health service. Our job is delivering healthcare to the community. So, it’s about combining skills and expertise to deliver the right outcome.
“Private funding gives us additional capacity to create contemporary facilities. It provides an environment and platform where the health team can deliver quality of care.”
Australian Unity has a long-term view of its relationship with operator Metro North Health and STARS. Pratt says: “We’re not a property developer with the intention of selling the asset. We’re a delivery partner who is prepared to invest from day one, with a 40-year time horizon. So, our time frames are much more aligned with our operating partners. Our model also supports health agencies to focus on what they do best, the delivery of healthcare services.”
McNamara, who has longstanding expertise working in PPPs, agrees the partnership is more than an investment transaction. “It’s an enduring relationship and Australian Unity is committed to the health outcomes and health infrastructure we deliver.”
She says for the relationship to be a success, it’s important for both sides to appreciate each other’s interests. “You’re always mindful about not just what you want to achieve, but what your partners want to achieve and their drivers. It’s critical to keep that front of mind because PPPs are complex. Keeping in mind shared outcomes as you go along the journey is vital.”
Importantly, STARS is a blueprint for future health sector property development projects.
Says Pratt: “Demand for acute care hospitals is growing as Australians age. STARS is a model for us to work with other health services to help them build the infrastructure their communities need.”
Australian Unity is a member-owned company—also called a mutual— investing money into the services and solutions that matter most to members, customers and the Australian community. To find out more about investments that make aim to deliver positive returns that aren’t just financial go to https://www.australianunity.com.au/life-changing
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