The Federal Liberal and Nationals Government will invest nearly $2 million over 2 years to the University of Queensland to expand allied health student training opportunities in St George, in rural Queensland.
Through the South Queensland Rural Health (SQRH) University Department of Rural Health, in Toowoomba, allied health students will participate in intensive high-quality rural education experiences.
Federal Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie joined Member for Groom, Garth Hamilton today in Toowoomba to make the announcement.
Member for Maranoa, David Littleproud, whose electorate the placements will take place in, said the Coalition’s investment would build the capability of the current resident health workforce in St George through supervised training and support, access to research opportunities and academic networks.
“This project will make a real difference to the people of St George,” Minister Littleproud said.
“In addition to the health services already provided in St George by South West Hospital and Health Service (SWHHS) and private and not-for-profit providers, the project will fill gaps in health care through a student-led clinic.
“This clinic will operate from the Goondir Health Services Community Wellbeing Centre, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) which has agreed to host SQRH staff at the centre.”
Mr Hamilton said the investment would provide staff and support infrastructure to deliver health and wellbeing services to the local community.
“This is a terrific local initiative and partnership building off the strong, established RHMT facilities here in Toowoomba,” Mr Hamilton said.
“I’m pleased the health services at this clinic is a partnership with local ACCHO Goondir Health Services and other community stakeholders.
“This great initiative will support chronic disease prevention and management for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members.
“The clinic will also support the Goondir adolescent wellbeing program by offering age-appropriate healthy eating, fitness, and positive peer engagement programs.”
Minister Gillespie, a former rural doctor, said the SQRH would employ several allied health clinical academics and administrative staff who will be located at the Goondir Community Wellbeing Centre in St George.
“Goondir has agreed to collaborate with SQRH to provide cultural mentoring support to students and staff,” Minister Gillespie said.
“Student recruitment will preference students from a rural background, of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin or those with a demonstrated commitment to rural practice.
“SQRH will also run health careers sessions for local schools in the St George catchment with placement opportunities provided to students from any Australian University.
“Appropriate accommodation in St George will be purchased for health students on clinical placement. Funding will be used to buy 2 houses so students can complete their rural placements close to where they will live, work, train and study.”
Mr Hamilton said SQRH expects to have 140 weeks of student placements per year at an average of 6 weeks per placement, which equates to approximately 24 students per year.
SQRH is a formal consortium between The University of Queensland, University of Southern Queensland Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service and SWHHS.
The facility is funded through the Government’s Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program, which is investing an additional $48.3 million as part of the 20-21 Budget to increase rural health training opportunities that deliver health, aged care, and disability services in regional, rural, and remote communities.
“There is growing evidence that students who have a positive and rewarding extended training experience in a rural area are more likely to take up rural practice upon graduation,” Dr Gillespie said.
Minister Littleproud said the Coalition Government is investing in and supporting high-quality rural health training, because it’s a proven and effective way to address gaps in the rural and remote health workforce now and in the future.