Thursday 3 August 2023

A bold vision for our regional health workforce

Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has called on the Federal Government to invest in the future of the rural health workforce, by funding a plan to make Albury Wodonga the Regional Health Education and Research Capital of Australia.

In a speech to Parliament this week, Dr Haines presented the vision for a Collaborative Education and Research Centre, to be located at the redeveloped Albury Wodonga Health precinct.

“This Centre will be a purpose-built facility which brings together clinical practice, education, training and research,” Dr Haines said.

“I want the best health facilities for our region, but we must also address the biggest issue facing our health sector – finding and keeping the doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who care for us.”

Dr Haines has met with leaders from Albury Wodonga Health, the University of New South Wales, La Trobe University, Charles Sturt University, Wodonga TAFE and NSW TAFE to discuss the proposal, which would combine the strengths of the border region’s universities, TAFEs and health services to better serve patients.

“Healthcare workers are critical to our experiences in the health system, and we need more of them. This collaborative centre would give us the ability to train and retain the healthcare workers we need, including doctors, nurses, specialists and allied health professionals.

“By providing a pathway for local students and mid-career health professionals to get the training they need close to home to upskill and specialise, to be mentored by local experts, it means we are more likely to keep them in our local health service.”

Dr Haines has taken the plan to the Government, including Health Minister Mark Butler and a meeting with Education Minister Jason Clare on Thursday.

“This is a huge opportunity for our region. Instead of competing, these institutions are coming together to combine strengths and ensure we don’t duplicate efforts.

“The Centre is key to attracting, training and retaining high quality staff to meet the needs of this growing population.”

“The centre would coordinate healthcare placements, deepen the workforce pool through increased student exposure to our region, and encourage education and training organisations to invest in our region.”

The proposal for the Collaborative Centre for Contemporary Education and Research evolved during consultations on the Albury Wodonga Regional Deal and includes a purpose-built facility which will house multidisciplinary clinical practice, education and training services. It will support healthcare training providers to deliver student facilities for undergraduates and post-graduate professionals training on the border.

In a speech to Parliament, Dr Haines said the Government should support the proposal as part of efforts to address the healthcare worker shortage.

“This is a big vision. Like every journey, it starts with a single step. The first step here is a small one – a modest funding request of $250,000 to facilitate a Discovery Phase of the project.”

Dr Haines’ speech to Parliament can be read and watched here

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