Curtin University has welcomed today’s announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the University’s Kalgoorlie campus of funding for a University Department of Rural Health (UDRH) in the Goldfields.
The Goldfields UDRH and one in the South West, also announced today, are recipients of $36 million in funding from the Federal Government to boost local health workforces.
The Prime Minister said Curtin would build on its existing medical training presence in the Goldfields region, establishing a UDRH for nursing and allied health training to complement its rural clinical school.
"University Departments of Rural Health boost the rural primary care workforce, improve health outcomes in rural and regional communities, and give students a taste of what it’s like to work in the bush," Prime Minister Morrison said.
Mr Rick Wilson MP, Federal Member for O’Connor, said access to health care was a huge issue across the Goldfields so this commitment was a game changer for the region that he had been fighting hard for.
The UDRH will build on the success of Curtin’s Kalgoorlie Rural Health Campus and Curtin’s partnerships with the Western Australian Country Health Service (WACHS) and the Royal Flying Doctor Service Western Operations (RFDSWO) to collaborate with community and industry to improve the wellbeing and health of our vital regional areas, now and into the future.
Professor Harlene Hayne, who joined the Prime Minister at the announcement, said the establishment of a Goldfields UDRH would be another tool to help address the uneven distribution of medical services in rural Western Australia.
"We are proud that Curtin’s success in delivering rural health education and training has now been recognised nationally by receiving Commonwealth funding as a University Department of Rural Health and we are delighted to be joining this national network," Professor Hayne said.
"Our focus will be on tackling rural health challenges through collaboration, training and research, and supporting undergraduate placements within the region for domestic allied health and nursing students.
"The Goldfields UDRH will also work hand in hand with the local communities to build capacity to respond effectively to the contemporary health challenges they face."
Chair of the WACHS Board, Dr Neale Fong said he was pleased to further the partnership.
"WACHS is very excited to be collaborating with Curtin on this initiative. We want to continue building on our relationship with Curtin University in delivering innovative healthcare into the regions," Dr Fong said.
"Our growing partnership, supported by the UDRH, will be great news for country patients and their families as well as our workforce."
RFDSWO CEO Rebecca Tomkinson said the Royal Flying Doctor Service welcomes the opportunity to partner with Curtin and the WA Country Health Service on this new collaboration.
"We understand how critical it is for regional communities to have access to high quality primary healthcare and skilled clinicians who understand rural health needs," Ms Tomkinson said.
"It is 85 years since the RFDS established its first base in Kalgoorlie to support patients in the region. Since then, we have continued to operate and grow with the ongoing support of the Goldfields community including local businesses, community organisations and our own local fundraising auxiliary.
"This partnership will help ensure we continue to meet the needs of people living in the region with a highly trained health workforce that continues to provide providing the community with the essential services they need."
The Curtin UDRH will be one of 19 UDRHs around Australia supported by the Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN).