EXCITING news for western NSW and a long-time coming, according to Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton, in Dubbo on Friday when introducing Minister for Regional Services and Decentralisation, Senator Bridget McKenzie, the minister responsible for rural health who has announced a $74 million federal government investment in the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network.
The senator visited Orange and Dubbo to announce the funding, including a $22m development in Orange in partnership with the Charles Sturt University, the University of Western Sydney, and a $7.65m new school at the University of Sydney’s School of Rural Health, Dubbo.
“We can now get on to building the end-to-end medical school training effort that we have all been championing for so long,” Senator McKenzie said.
“The Murray-Darling Medical School network is five medical schools’ training embedded into regional communities to deliver students into regions, but more importantly, deliver practitioners on the ground right across rural and regional Australia.
“We know we graduate enough doctors in this country, but most are all practising in the capital cities.
“We need to get more of them out here in rural cities and communities giving high quality domestically trained doctors delivering high quality health care to our communities.”
The other three universities building training-specific facilities include the University of NSW at Wagga Wagga; Monash University at Bendigo and Mildura; and University of Melbourne, Shepparton, with a pathway for undergraduate students from La Trobe University, Bendigo and Wodonga.
Senator McKenzie said the first 24 graduates are enrolled to commence at Dubbo from 2021 and hoped to see shovels on the ground digging on the campus as early as March next year.
“Once all medical schools are operating some 140 students will begin their medical studies across the Murray-Darling region each year.
Head of Rural Medical School, Dubbo, Associate Professor Dr Mark Arnold, said postgraduates would be able to work in rural communities as the types of practitioners the community requires now and in the future.
Mark Coulton said the Dubbo campus was another piece of the puzzle for the health precinct of Dubbo.
“If you cast your mind back a decade, Dubbo wasn’t considered a place of excellence when it came to services in health.
“But from the state government’s hospital upgrade and federal and state investment in the cancer centre well under way, plus the work of Sydney University, we are now seeing Dubbo become a centre of excellence to serve the people of western NSW.”