Allied health students receive $1.8 million training and placement boost across regional NSW

3 FEBRUARY 2022

Allied health students receive $1.8 million training and placement boost across regional NSW

$1.8 million boost through Charles Sturt Three Rivers Department of Rural Health in Wagga Wagga will expand training and placements across allied health disciplines. The funding supports improved healthcare access for regional residents.

  • $1.8 million boost through Charles Sturt Three Rivers Department of Rural Health in Wagga Wagga will expand training and placements across allied health disciplines
  • The funding supports improved healthcare access for regional residents through increased training and student placements

Charles Sturt University will expand allied health student training and placements across the Riverina region with a grant of $1.87 million under the federal government’s Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program, announced today in Parkes.

Charles Sturt, in partnership with the Western NSW Local Health District and Primary Health Network, identified opportunities to increase local training and student placements across allied health disciplines, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, exercise physiology, speech pathology and podiatry. This has the added benefit of improving residents’ access to healthcare.

The funding will allow Charles Sturt to provide intensive, high-quality rural education experiences in Forbes and Parkes through its Three Rivers Department of Rural Health which is based in Wagga Wagga.

Charles Sturt Vice-Chancellor, Professor Renée Leon, said the provision of a strong and skilled health workforce for regional, rural and remote Australia is one of Charles Sturt University’s most important responsibilities.

“Students in Charles Sturt University’s Three Rivers Department of Rural Health live and study in regional Australia, affording them a unique and clear understanding of the health needs of these communities,” Professor Leon said.

“Charles Sturt University is excited to be able to offer more opportunities for student training and placements in physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, exercise physiology, speech pathology and other allied health fields.”

Charles Sturt, through Three Rivers Department of Rural Health will create additional positions to be located within the Forbes and Parkes region, including the following:

• A First Nation’s Allied Health Clinical Educator

• The equivalent of four Clinical Supervisors

• Three Senior Aboriginal Health Workers

Charles Sturt intends to run an average of five weeks’ placements per year, per student for roughly 53 students, totalling approximately 265 placement weeks annually.

Three Rivers Department of Rural Health Director, Christine Howard, said student presence across these local communities would increase significantly.

“This will be a boost to health service provision but will also support the local economy as students spend money in these communities whilst on placement,” Ms Howard said.

“Additionally, the investment in housing for students also supports local business through property management, security, cleaning, and linen services.”

Federal Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack, during his visit to Charles Sturt, said ensuring people in rural NSW had access to high quality health care was a priority for the Coalition Government.

“Through the additional local training and placement opportunities, access for patients to a number of allied health disciplines - including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, exercise physiology, speech pathology and podiatry - will increase.”

Mr McCormack said the funding will also be used to purchase a four-bedroom house in Forbes for student accommodation, to ensure when students arrive for their placements, they have a place to live.

Federal Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie, said the Coalition Government’s Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program was boosting the recruitment and retention of health professionals in rural and remote areas.

“It’s a very successful program, because while students get the opportunity to study in rural and remote Australia, they also fill gaps in community health services,” Dr Gillespie said.

“Clinical supervisors here in the Riverina will be supported to enhance their skills through access to clinical educator, CUC workshops, and professional mentoring and education with a focus on rural practice and pathways to higher degree studies.”

Mr McCormack said the new rural health demonstration training site at the Parkes Country University Centre (CUC) will provide crucial student support.

“Part of that support and training will include a half-day cultural immersion experience with Indigenous Elders, cultural understanding support by Aboriginal Health Workers, and cultural safety/rural readiness training from the Clinical Educator,” he said.

“Indigenous students can access Charles Sturt’s mentoring program to support them through an exciting and valuable program of study.”

Dr Gillespie said there was increasing evidence demonstrating that health and medicine students who study in a rural or regional area during their training are more likely to stay in the bush once qualified.

“They soon realise, like I did, that working in regional communities provides a tremendous opportunity to really make a difference in health outcomes and enjoy a satisfying career in the bush,” Dr Gillespie said.

ENDS

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Charles Sturt Vice-Chancellor, Professor Renée Leon, please contact Trease Clarke at Charles Sturt Media via news@csu.edu.au or via 0409 741 789

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