The Federal Government has announced it will invest $3 million over two years through the University of Queensland (UQ) to establish a community-based demonstration, health and aged care training hub.
The facility in Chinchilla, the Government says, will help address a gap in aged care across the Maranoa region.
Visiting Chinchilla, Federal Member for Maranoa, David Littleproud, said there were exciting times ahead for health students in the area to train locally under the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program.
“This new and important collaboration between the University of Queensland and Southern Cross Care Queensland will enable nursing and allied health students to get practical student training experience across residential and community-based aged care,” Littleproud, the Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, said.
“The project aims to expand rural student placements as well as develop and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health students while delivering 200 weeks of quality placement experiences.
“Funding will be used to recruit academic staff, who will live in our region, and purchase local housing for student accommodation during placement.
“I am hopeful that we will see a boost to the region’s aged care workforce and improved aged care services for senior Australians in Chinchilla and the surrounding communities from this investment.”
Federal regional health minister, David Gillespie said the hub includes space for training and tutorial rooms, student computing facilities, high-speed internet access and videoconference facilities.
Gillespie, a former regional doctor, said students at the site will be supported by several clinical academics in nursing and allied health.
Littleproud said Chinchilla will see an increase in student placements for Exercise Physiology, Dietetics, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Speech Pathology, Social Work, Psychology, Pharmacy and Nursing by expanding the RHMT program services into the Western Downs region.
“The main training hub will be at the Chinchilla Illoura Village residential aged care facility which – together with Leichhardt Villa in Taroom and the Tarcoola in Tara – will host student placements,” he said.
“This equates to two full-time equivalent staff members, 0.8 FTE for an administration officer and about 35 students per year commencing.
“This training program will also drive economic growth and support rural communities in Chinchilla with the grant used to buy resources and equipment including a staff vehicle, technology, office supplies and furniture from local suppliers.”
The facility is funded through the Federal Government’s RHMT program, which is investing $48.3 million to increase rural health training opportunities that deliver health, aged care, and disability services in regional, rural, and remote communities.
“There is growing evidence that students who undertake extended training in a rural area, and those from a rural background, are more likely to take up rural practice upon graduation and what a great place Chinchilla is to live, work and study,” Littleproud said.
“The Federal Government is investing in and supporting high-quality rural health training because it’s a proven and effective way for us to address gaps in the rural and remote health workforce now and in the future.”