Charles Sturt University welcomes the announcements in the Budget of incentives for students studying medicine, psychology, nursing and midwifery, as well as broader financial support for university students.
As Australia’s leading regional university, one of our core functions is to serve our communities through the provision of a skilled healthcare workforce.
We know that students who study in regional areas are far more likely to live and work in regional areas after graduating. Given this, the internships, work placements, scholarships and other incentives for health students announced in the Budget will help Charles Sturt to address the skills shortages in hospitals, clinics and practices outside Australia’s major cities.
This includes the ongoing critical shortage of GPs in regional Australia. Addressing this issue is one of the principle aims of our School of Rural Medicine, which now has three cohorts of students, many of whom are planning on practicing in non-metropolitan communities when qualified to do so.
Commentary in the Budget that there will be “320 additional medical places over four years to bolster Australia’s regional health workforce” is certainly in keeping with this aim. We urge the Government to include Charles Sturt in the allocation of these new places that will provide more doctors directly into our regional communities.
It is also hoped that the $31.6 million allocated in the Budget to trial enhanced training arrangements for international medical students to work in rural and remote locations will further support our push to ensure regional communities have the doctors they need.
Other allocations in the Budget to help train healthcare professionals include:
- $91.3 million for additional psychology placements, including 500 psychology post-graduate placements, 500 one-year internships, and 2,000 supervisor training sessions
- $50.2 million to establish the Primary Care and Midwifery Scholarships program to support registered nurses and midwives to undertake post-graduate study and improve their skills
- $10.7 million to boost the primary care nursing workforce by creating 6,000 primary care clinical placements and providing incentives to clinics employing returning nurses
Charles Sturt also welcomes the Budget’s increases for Youth Allowance, Austudy, ABSTUDY and other income support payments for higher education students. These are welcome and much-needed measures to help students struggling with financial pressures. We hope the Government will continue to review income support options for students.
Charles Sturt is concerned by the apparent end of the Regional Research Collaboration Program (RRCP). The innovative and practical research outcomes that will drive regional Australia’s industries and economies forward are best led by regional universities because we understand our communities. This is exemplified by the $3.99 million the RRCP assigned to a Charles Sturt-led study aimed at reducing the disastrous impact on Australian agriculture of Zoonotic diseases.
Building the research capabilities of regional universities also means that students in those areas can undertake postgraduate research degrees, adding to the nation’s stock of knowledge and providing the students with a steppingstone to a wide range of careers.
We hope that the Government can provide some clarity about its commitment to supporting the research capability of regional universities, and about the future of the RRCP in particular.
Charles Sturt now eagerly awaits the next stages of the Australian Universities Accord process, which we hope will see members of the panel and their team in the Department of Education visit our campuses to see how regional universities work to create a world worth living in.
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