COMMUNITY health services in Sunbury and the Macedon Ranges are set to be strengthened with the announcement of the merger of Cobaw Community Health and Sunbury Community Health.

The merged organisation, to be known as Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health, will formally launch on January 1, 2021.

The merger has been endorsed by both organisations’ boards and backed by a vote of support by Cobaw’s members.

Cobaw chief executive Margaret McDonald said the environment continued to be challenging for smaller community health organisations.

“As two entities, we often miss out on securing new funding contracts as they are given to larger organisations,” she said.

“For those accessing our services and programs very little will change. You will receive the same high level of care from the same location.

“There will be a new name and a new logo but you can be assured that behind it are the same local staff that you know and trust with their strong connection to the community.”

Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health will cover an area of more than 1700 square kilometres from Sunbury to beyond the borders of Macedon Ranges Shire.

Its 280 staff and 100 volunteers will be based across four sites at Sunbury, Romsey, Woodend and Kyneton.

Sunbury Community Health chief executive Phillip Ripper said the organisations had provided services that responded to the needs of the community for several decades.

“By joining together, we will build on the strengths of each organisation and be better positioned to collaborate, take advantage of funding opportunities and share knowledge across our communities,” he said.

“We are similar organisations with similar values and a genuine commitment to the individuality of our communities.

“We have collaborated on a number of projects and truly believe that together we will be in a stronger position to expand services and ensure that community health continues to be delivered close to home.”