More than 100 students studying medicine, nursing, midwifery, allied health and dentistry have completed the rural part of their training in Mildura under Morrison Joyce Government-funded programs, which has boosted access to doctors, dentists and health professionals for local patients.
Federal Member for Mallee, Dr Anne Webster said the Morrison Joyce Government supported regional and rural health training, because it resulted in more doctors and health professionals staying in the bush after they graduate.
Visiting La Trobe and Monash universities in Mildura today with Federal Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie, Dr Webster said Federal Government investment through the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program gave more students more opportunities to train locally.
“To achieve a stable, reliable and dedicated workforce in healthcare throughout Mallee, we need to pull out every tool in the toolbox. Regional training centres like Monash University and La Trobe University are essential to achieving this outcome,” Dr Webster said.
“Our Government provides $6.65 million to La Trobe University under the RHMT program, so students can train and do placements here in Mildura.
“Last year, La Trobe students completed more than 190 nursing, midwifery and allied health placements in Mildura, equating to more than 835 training weeks.
“Additionally, our government provides funding of $48.3 million to Monash University under the RHMT Program.”
Dr Gillespie, a regional doctor for more than 30 years, said in Mildura last year, 16 Monash students completed 12-month medical placements; 21 completed six-month medical placements; and more than 25 short-term medical placements took place, equating to more than 160 training weeks.
Additionally, Monash students completed more than 45 nursing, midwifery and allied health placements, equating to more than 170 completed training weeks.
“To ensure this can run smoothly, 14 local staff support the students across the two programs,” Dr Webster said.
Minister Gillespie said the Government was tackling the challenges associated with Australia’s health workforce maldistribution head-on.
“The RHMT Program and the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network are two of the Government’s flagship training programs aimed at bridging the city-country divide in health services and training opportunities,” Dr Gillespie said.
“These programs are a win-win-win for students, patients and host communities, which benefit from the local jobs created and the placements trainees undertake. They expose students to many of the unique challenges facing rural patients.”
Dr Webster said that training health students in regional areas is an essential step to ensuring a sustainable health workforce in regional areas such as Mildura.
“The reality is that we have enough medical graduates, but the distribution of those graduates is heavily weighted in metropolitan areas. I want to see more health professionals choosing to come to regional centres and invest into the local community on a long-term basis,” Dr Webster said.
“The Liberal and Nationals Government will continue to fight to see solutions for regional people. Regional, rural and remote Australia are not an afterthought for this government: they are a priority.
“That is why I continue to fight for funding for a biomed undergraduate course for La Trobe University in Mildura. This would provide a proven entrance to a medical degree in Mildura and coupled with the post graduate courses available at Monash would secure workforce into the future.”
Monash University receives $7.88 million in funding from the Morrison Joyce Government for a new ‘rural intention’ stream to the existing intake of its four-year graduate entry medical program in Gippsland; 30 students who started this program in Gippsland in 2021 will move to Mildura and Bendigo to complete the remainder of their degree.