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Friday, December 1, 2023

New Tasmanian aged care training program a boost for local workforce

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A multidisciplinary teaching hub at a New Norfolk aged care facility will secure greater opportunities for health students and better access to services for older Tasmanians across the region, according to the Federal Government.

The Government will invest $1.5 million through the University of Tasmania (UTAS) to establish the training centre at Corumbene Care.

At New Norfolk today to announce the funding, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck said the investment underlines the Government’s commitment to older and vulnerable Australians across regional Australia.

The facility is set to offer nursing, exercise physiology, pharmacy, psychology, social work, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech pathology and podiatry training.

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.

Minister for Regional Health, Dr David Gillespie

“We know how important it is for older Australians to receive the care they need, particularly in regions where access to services can sometimes be restricted,” Colbeck said.

“The surrounding areas of the Derwent Valley, Central Highlands and the Southern Midlands will benefit enormously under this initiative aimed at strengthening future careers in the sector while prioritising the health and wellbeing of older Tasmanians.”

Colbeck said students will learn how to deliver culturally responsible services including bereavement support, health promotion, exercise and nutrition.

Minister for Regional Health, Dr David Gillespie said though the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program, the Government is investing $48.3 million to increase rural health training opportunities to deliver health, aged care, and disability services in regional, rural, and remote communities.

“More than $18 million of the funding was allocated to establish up to seven health training demonstration sites in aged care services in country Australia,” Gillespie said.

Students from UTAS and interstate universities across nursing and allied health disciplines will undertake their scheduled Professional Experience Placements (PEP) at Corumbene.

UTAS aims to deliver training to 44 students in 2022, and 50 students in 2023, with an average placement being approximately five weeks long.

UTAS will work to increase that to more than five weeks for each student.

Importantly, UTAS will directly target students from rural areas and work with Aboriginal health organisations to incorporate cultural safety for supervisors and students.

“There is growing evidence that health 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,” Gillespie 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.”

More broadly, Colbeck said the Government had invested more than $652 million to grow the aged care workforce as it continues to respond to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

This includes a $91.8 million investment to support providers to attract, train and retain 13,000 new personal care workers as soon as possible, with a focus on home care through the new Home Care Worker Support Program.

Funding has also been provided for workforce planning as part of the existing Business Advisory Service, which will include tools to support recruitment, training and retention of workers.

Additionally, the Government announced $135.6 million in financial support for registered nurses who work for the same aged care provider over a 12 month period. 

Nurses will be eligible for an additional payment if they work in a rural or remote area or have a formal postgraduate qualifications or take on further training responsibilities.

This funding will be rolled out over two years, and will put money straight into the pockets of aged care nurses.

The Aged Care Transition to Practice Program, has also provided support and guidance to newly graduated nurses since its commencement in August 2021.

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