Boost to Clinical Training in Rural Remote Australia must be supported with sustainable workforce models

The Federal Government has announced $54.4 million has been allocated over 2016-17 to 2018-19 for new Regional Training Hubs and University Departments of Rural Health (UDRH).  Assistant Minister for Health, Dr David Gillespie, today announced the locations of 26 regional training hubs and three new UDRHs, and the universities that will operate them. Federal Coalition’s Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program.

“Both of these initiatives of the Coalition Government support high quality rural placements for health students from across Australia, to help ensure rural communities have access to doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals in the future,” Minister Gillespie said.

“Training facilities like University Departments of Rural Health are essential to the regional health workforce of the future.”

With funding of $26 million, University of Notre Dame (WA), Charles Sturt University (NSW) and University of Queensland (QLD) have been selected to establish UDRHs in, respectively, Broome and the Kimberley in Western Australia, southern and central New South Wales, and South-East Queensland. This now takes the number of UDRHs across Australia to 15.  

IAHA welcomes this initiative of the Coalition Government to support high quality rural placements for all heath students. The setting of targets to boost enrolments into allied health courses from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and increase mentoring services supports our work with partners in building and supporting a culturally safe and responsive allied health workforce. 

“We encourage Government and Universities to look at existing community-based workforce development initiatives that foster holistic inter-professional approaches. The James Cook University Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health (MICRRH), collaborated with their local community and identified that culturally-responsive allied health services was part of providing holistic health care with their community” said IAHA CEO, Donna Murray. 

In 2016, MICCRH partnered with IAHA and signed a formal collaboration agreement which focuses on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health students to undertake clinical placements in remote and regional Queensland and Northern Australia. We are also focused on ensuring students are provided experiences that are culturally responsive to the unique and local health needs of the community.

The UDRHs will support current health workforce priorities in their region, and expand support for clinical placement activity for nursing, midwifery, dental or allied health students.

IAHA calls on UDRHs and Governments to work with communities, the Aboriginal community-controlled health services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations like IAHA, to create workforce models that support the sustainable development of the allied health workforce and broader of remote and rural health workforce.

“We need to support students who have a vested interest in living and working in rural and remote locations with long term employment opportunities at the end of their studies. IAHA will continue to advocate for better rural and remote allied health workforce incentives and ensure appropriate workforce models are embedded as an essential component of the health system.” said Ms Murray.

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