Today I want to share a vision for the future of our rural health workforce.

A vision to train our next generation of doctors, nurses and allied health practitioners.

To attract research excellence and innovation to our regions.

To bring together our major health education institutions of TAFEs, universities, defence and Albury Wodonga Health.

A vision to make Albury-Wodonga Health the Regional Health Research and Education Capital of Australia.

We’ll do this by establishing a Collaborative Education and Research Centre, co-located at the new hospital in Albury currently under redevelopment.

This Centre will be a purpose-built facility which brings together clinical practice, research, education and training. It will pool resources for regional health research. And it will enhance our cross-border data collection and analysis.

Albury Wodonga Health is the only cross-border health service in the nation. It services a large catchment of 300,000 people with high than the national rates of chronic disease.

Within 15 years, this catchment will grow by a third. By 2040 we will need a hospital and workforce capable of handling 150,000 emergency presentations, 40,000 surgeries and 1,900 births every year.

This Centre is the key to attracting, training and retaining high quality staff to meet this surge in demand.

This joint proposal has come from Albury Wodonga Health, University of New South Wales, Latrobe University, Charles Sturt University, Wodonga TAFE and NSW TAFE. And there is potential for the Army School of Health to join as a partner as well.

Last month I sat down with these partners to discuss what this proposal could mean for us.

Because if there’s one thing I know, it’s rural healthcare.

Before becoming an MP, I spent my whole career in rural health, firstly as a a clinical nurse and midwife and then as a researcher. And one of the key things we were looking at were the best ways to grow and retain a strong regional health workforce.

I’ve seen how people suffer when we fall short. But I’ve also seen what success looks like.

At the University of Melbourne School of Rural Health, we pioneered this model, and I want to see this grow and develop on the Border.

Trust me when I say – I know this proposal will work.

I know what this means for our region.

It’s a big vision. And like every journey, it starts with a single step. And the first small step is this one – a modest funding request to scope and develop this proposal.

When I leave this chamber, I’m off to see the Minister for Health. I’ll also be seeing the Assistant Minister for Regional and Rural Health. I hope they get used to seeing me. Because we need this funding. We need this urgently, to get this journey on its way.

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