Petition for Rural Transport to Medical Appointments


COTA Coomalie Branch Petition – July 2016: Provide Fair Access to Hospital Treatment in Darwin for Coomalie Residents

COTA NT Coomalie Branch’s petition called on the NT Government to help provide transport for older residents of rural communities to reach medical appointments.

To: The NT Government and the Northern Territory Health Minister John Elferink

Request: NT Government assist the communities of Adelaide River and Batchelor by gifting a suitable vehicle and financial aid that will provide much-needed transport for older members of the communities and surrounding areas to reach medical appointments and treatments in Darwin.

Reason: That the 1,000+ residents of the Coomalie District are severely disadvantaged regarding access to Royal Darwin Hospital, specialist clinics and other medical treatment due to the lack of public or government-funded transport between Coomalie (including the townships of Adelaide River, Batchelor and Lake Bennett) and Darwin.

At the moment, in order to qualify for the Patient Assistance Travel Scheme (PATS), patients must travel at least 200km (one way) to an approved medical service. The Coomalie region is approximately 110km from central Darwin, which means that its residents do not qualify for PATS. There are no public transport services for these residents and therefore they are significantly disadvantaged with regard to access to hospital and medical treatment. The lack of transport can result in delays to treatment which means that conditions may worsen before hospitalisation and prolong hospital stays.


  • 35 supporters signed the online petition with more signing paper copies (final number to be confirmed).
  • 19 October 2016 – Presentation to 13th Assembly of the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

    • Referred to Patients Assistance Travel Scheme (PATS) – some special circumstances. Patients who travel to Darwin for cancer treatment (chemotherapy) for several days per week from these areas who do not have family to assist are provided accommodation assistance under PATS as a special circumstance. The PATS guidelines also provide reimbursement for patients who must travel more than 200 kilometres one way or more than 400 kilometres cumulatively in one week (to attend renal and oncology services). Further information on the PATS can be obtained at the following link: https://nt. gov. au/wellbeing/health-subsidies-support-and-home-visits/patient-assistancetravelscheme
    • TEHS has recently reviewed the Low Acuity Patient Travel (LAPT) in response to these petitions and endorsed an expansion of the service…operational arrangements for how patients will access the service, which will either be via their local health clinic or by contacting a central transport booking officer, and the demand for the service, are currently being determined. 
    • COTA (NT or Coomalie Region as appropriate) may wish to consider applying for a Community Benefit Fund grant for the purposes of obtaining a vehicle.
  • On 17 August 2017, COTA NT applied via the Community Benefit Fund for a vehicle and funds to visit seniors across the Territory.
  • On 21 August 2018 COTA NT took possession of a new shuttle bus – courtesy of the NT Government’s Community Benefit Fund major grants – enabling COTA Coomalie Branch to use its existing bus for seniors in the rural area.
  • The branch organises monthly trips to Coolalinga and Gateway shopping and service centres.

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