The Liberal & Nationals Government’s $74 million investment in the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network – including $7 million for La Trobe University to offer a new undergraduate degree in Wodonga and Bendigo – will completely change the way country-raised medical students are trained, with rural and regional Australians the big winners.
Minister for Regional Services and Decentralisation Senator Bridget McKenzie said the Network addressed a common concern across rural and regional Australia – attracting and retaining doctors who understand local issues and concerns. Once all medical schools are operating approximately 140 students will begin their medical studies across the Murray-Darling region each year.
“The current model of medical training, which predominantly happens in the cities, will be turned on its head. The majority of training will happen in the regions and rotations to metropolitan areas for specialist experience kept to a minimum,” Minister McKenzie said.
“The Liberal & Nationals Government is determined to provide better access to medical practitioners for people living in our rural areas. This program will allow students in the North East and Central Victoria to train within their local area.”
Minister McKenzie said the Liberal & Nationals Government will provide $67 million to five leading universities with campuses in the Murray-Darling region of New South Wales and Victoria to support medical students who will begin studying from 2021 while La Trobe University will receive $7 million to deliver a new biomedical science degree that will start in 2019 and will provide a pathway for 15 students every year to go onto study medicine.
The funding will be provided to:
- The University of New South Wales (Wagga Wagga);
- The University of Sydney (Dubbo);
- Charles Sturt University in partnership with Western Sydney University (Orange);
- Monash University (Bendigo, Mildura); and
- The University of Melbourne (Shepparton) with a pathway for undergraduate students from La Trobe University (Bendigo, Wodonga).
“La Trobe University will offer a new three-year Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Medical) undergraduate degree,” Minister McKenzie said.
“This will connect to the University of Melbourne’s new Doctor of Medicine (Rural) degree, which it will offer through the Rural Medical School in Shepparton.”
Minister McKenzie, announced the funding and details of the project today during a visit to Wodonga.
The funding includes $2.6 million for capital works to refurbish the current laboratory, administrative and teaching facilities at La Trobe’s Wodonga and Bendigo campuses.
Minister McKenzie said it wasn’t only students who would benefit from the innovative Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network, but also the communities.
“When the students have completed their medical studies and are fully qualified, many will choose to look for work in their home towns and region which will give a huge boost to the rural medical workforce in those areas,” Minister McKenzie said.
“The Network will maximise opportunities for school leavers and graduate-entry students living in the country and attract those who want to become a doctor in rural and regional areas.”
The Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network is part of the Government’s $550 million 2018-19 Budget investment in the Stronger Rural Health Strategy to improve access to health services for people living in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia.