Flinders health agenda gets $5m injection

warren-snowdonFlinders University’s capacity to deliver regional health education has been boosted with the announcement today of more than $5 million in funding from the Federal Government’s Rural Education Infrastructure Development Pool.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon and Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon (pictured), announced funding of $4 million for the North East Arnhem Centre for Health Care and Education Excellence in Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory.

The Centre for Remote Health in Alice Springs receives $905,200 for the purchase of student accommodation, while the Flinders University Rural Clinical School receives $285,000 to upgrade the Kangaroo Island Medical Clinic.

Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Barber said the money would advance the University’s commitment to improving health and education in regional Australia and to closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.

“Flinders has an ambitious agenda to deliver education and support services to students in regional and rural Australia,” Professor Barber said.

“Health education and training is central to that ambition and the University already has a significant footprint across regional Australia – from remote areas of the Northern Territory to western Victoria and South Australia – making a career in health a possibility for students in those regions,” he said.

“The students benefit but their communities benefit, too, by having access to more medical and allied health professionals during their training and beyond.”

The North East Arnhem Centre for Health Care and Education Excellence will be a hub of medical and allied health education, training and research.

It will more than double the opportunities for students to be placed at Nhulunbuy, dramatically increasing the local hospital’s capacity and enhancing health services in Nhulunbuy and the East Arnhem region generally.

The Centre will boast an education centre, a clinical skills laboratory, student-dedicated consulting rooms and staff and student accommodation.

Professor Barber said the establishment of the Centre was a unique opportunity for regional education and training in Australia.

“The North East Arnhem Centre for Health Care and Education Excellence brings together the education, training and research interests of Flinders and its partners and addresses two critical constraints: student residential accommodation, and clinical supervision and teaching resources,” Professor Barber said.

“We are grateful for this Federal Government funding which will enable us to accommodate and train more than double the number of student doctors, nurses and other health workers who receive invaluable experience during their regional placements,” he said.

“For Indigenous healthcare workers, the Centre will allow them to spend more time in Arnhem Land. This is a significant advantage for Indigenous students who may be less comfortable away from home and consequently less likely to initiate, progress or complete their education and training.”

As well as general practice, it is anticipated that the Centre will eventually incorporate physiotherapy, psychology, dietetics, occupational health and optometry.

“Its integrated, multidisciplinary nature means the Centre has the potential to be the premier place in Australia for training and research in remote and Indigenous health care,” Professor Barber said.

The Centre is led by Flinders University in collaboration with local GP Dr Neil Davidson, Charles Darwin University, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Northern Territory General Practice Education and Gove District Hospital.

It will be an important site of Flinders University’s Northern Territory Rural Clinical School and Centre for Remote Health.

Rio Tinto Alcan is supporting the Centre by providing eight accommodation units, high quality catering and support services free of charge to Flinders students and staff.

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