- Deputy Prime Minister the Honourable Mr Michael McCormack helps to turn first sod on Charles Sturt University’s Academic and Research Hub
- State-of-the-art $22 million facility will house University’s School of Rural Medicine in Orange
- Joint Program in Medicine will be run in partnership with Western Sydney University
The first sod has been turned on the Academic and Research Hub which will be the centrepiece of Charles Sturt University’s (Charles Sturt) School of Rural Medicine in Orange.
Deputy Prime Minister The Honourable Mr Michael McCormack, Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government The Honourable Mr Mark Coulton, Member for Calare The Honourable Mr Andrew Gee, and Charles Sturt Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann were joined by more than 70 guests at a ceremony and morning tea at the site at 9.30am on Thursday 12 December.
The $22 million Academic and Research Hub will be home to the Joint Program in Medicine (JPM), run in partnership with Western Sydney University (WSU), which will welcome its first cohort of students at Charles Sturt in Orange in February 2021.
Mr McCormack, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, said the Liberal and Nationals Government’s unprecedented investment in health and aged care infrastructure projects was boosting regional economies and creating more local jobs.
“A dedicated medical school in Orange will encourage doctors to stay in the local area, contribute positively to the community and give locals the healthcare they want, need and, most importantly, deserve,” he said.
“Regional Australia is home to 8.8 million people and we want that number to increase. Research shows if we train doctors from start to finish in country areas, they’ll stay in the regions.
“The Nationals in Government consistently deliver for rural and regional Australia, backing projects that will benefit locals in Orange for years to come.”
Professor Vann said the sod turning was a significant milestone in Charles Sturt’s push to provide regional and rural Australians with the highest quality healthcare.
“This is the latest of the many steps taken by Charles Sturt University, taken in partnership with WSU, towards accepting and training its first cohort of medical students,” he said.
“When completed, this facility will provide the world-class infrastructure required to produce the highly-skilled medical professionals regional Australia needs and deserves.
“It is a pleasure to welcome the Deputy Prime Minister and our other distinguished guests to Charles Sturt University in Orange on such a proud and momentous occasion.”
Mr Gee said the medical school would be a game-changer for the practice of medicine in regional Australia.
“It represents an almighty step forward in addressing the shortage of country medical practitioners by training doctors in the bush, for practice in the bush,” he said.
“I believe this medical school will stand as one of the most significant and lasting achievements of this term of government. It will be opening its doors in 2021, but will be training country doctors for generations.
“At the end of the day, the school is about equality of opportunity for our country students and equality of medical studies for regional Australians.”
Construction of the Academic and Research Hub - which will house JPM learning spaces and staff offices, as well as an Indigenous student centre, a floor dedicated to health research, meeting rooms, and other shared spaces - is expected to take 12 months.
In late 2020 there will be further work to upgrade the Orange campus’s Experiential Learning Centre and School of Dentistry and Health Sciences buildings to create additional student learning spaces, an expansion of anatomy facilities, and an ultrasound room.
In October Charles Sturt announced plans to establish clinical training facilities and house a new research institute on the first floor of the new Bloomfield Private Medical Centre in Orange.
Building company Lipman won the tender to construct the Academic and Research Hub, which was designed by Brewster Hjorth Architects.
Lipman Regional Manager Mr Andrew Middleton said the company had a long history of completing large-scale projects for academic institutions.
“Lipman has constructed a range of high-tech, sustainable projects to ensure universities have state-of-the-art facilities,” Mr Middleton said.
“We have strong ties to the regional communities of NSW, and are proud to work with Charles Sturt University and its partners by constructing one of the region’s most important educational facilities.
“The Lipman team and I look forward to seeing this project come to fruition.”
Dean of the School of Medicine at WSU and Executive Dean of the Joint Program Distinguished Professor Annemarie Hennessy AM said the universities are well-matched as partner institutions.
“Western Sydney University and Charles Sturt University are committed to addressing the important health challenges of their regions,” Professor Hennessy said.
“This Joint Program in Medicine will be a true collaboration of knowledge, skills and resources – and set to benefit most from this alliance are the people of rural and regional Australia, who will have access to more home-grown doctors and improved medical health services.”
In early November Dr Lesley Forster was announced as the inaugural Dean of Rural Medicine for Charles Sturt’s School of Rural Medicine.
Dr Forster attended Thursday’s sod turning event, along with Orange Mayor Mr Reg Kidd, Charles Sturt Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor John Germov, and Charles Sturt Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science Professor Megan Smith.