$59.6 m La Trobe regional health care in Victoria

$59.6 m La Trobe regional health care in Victoria

12 May 2009

La Trobe University is delighted by the Federal Government’s announcement today that it will fund the $59.6 million La Trobe Rural Health School.
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Johnson, said that the project will transform health care in regional Victoria.

‘The La Trobe University Rural Health School will bring significant benefits to regional communities and students’ said Professor Johnson.

‘Our bid would not have succeeded without the very active support of Steve Gibbons MP and his office, and I would like to thank him for helping bring this important infrastructure to Bendigo,’ said Professor Johnson.

‘The school will create an additional 60 academic and administrative positions and improve rural participation rates in health education with 781 additional student places. It will generate an additional 211 graduates each year and this will go a long way to addressing the critical shortage of health professionals in the region’.

‘In addition, according to National Economics research, the school will increase applied health research, improve health practice and service delivery and provide over 550 new construction jobs.’

Professor Johnson said that the investment by the Federal Government in the Rural Health School further develops the University’s relationship with Bendigo Health and the regional Victorian health sector, and strengthens La Trobe’s role in helping address the current and projected health workforce shortages.

Professor Johnson stated that the expansion of the Bendigo campus was a priority for the University.

He said the infrastructure supports a recent Federal Government grant of $3.16 m to appoint four professors and supplements $24m contributions by the Victorian State Government. 

Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Hal Swerissen, stressed the important role that the La Trobe University Rural Health School will play in the northern Victorian region.

‘The delivery of health care to rural and regional residents is being compromised by the current shortages in nursing and allied health workers. Job vacancies of up to one year are reported in nursing and allied health across the region,’ Professor Swerissen said.

‘Current estimates suggest that significant numbers of the rural health workforce will retire over the next five to ten years. Training health professionals in regional Victoria is a critical recruitment and retention strategy that will benefit communities throughout north central Victoria.’

Professor Swerissen said that the La Trobe University Rural Health School will improve the numbers of health professionals working in rural and regional locations.

‘Only 18% of young people living in regional Victoria are likely to be at University compared to 25% of their Melbourne counterparts. The new School will increase the number of students studying health care at La Trobe by 70%, an overall increase of 781, and will have an enhanced focus on producing workplace ready graduates through its new approach to clinical, professional placement and education,’ Professor Swerissen said.

‘The importance of the school is demonstrated when you consider that, on average, 67% of La Trobe’s regional graduates remain in the regional communities in which they train.’

Professor Swerissen said that the school will improve the educational experience for health science students, strengthen ties between higher education providers in northern Victoria and attract experts in health from all over the country.

‘There will be a much greater focus on student centred learning and interdisciplinary practice through the introduction of a new curriculum model, a common first year and integrated clinical/professional placements.

‘The school builds on the established strong links between La Trobe and the Monash University School of Rural Health. The Clinical Teaching Building on the Bendigo Health site will be co-located with the Monash School, allowing much more effective and efficient use of teaching and research infrastructure and staffing’.

Professor Swerissen said that articulation pathways for health professionals will be extended with TAFE in Bendigo (Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE), Mildura (Sunraysia Institute of TAFE), Shepparton (GoTAFE) and Albury Wodonga (Wodonga TAFE).

He said that La Trobe University has co-located campuses with TAFE institutes at Mildura, Shepparton and Wodonga. 

In doubling the University’s applied health research capacity in northern Victoria, the school will improve health services practice and service delivery in northern Victoria. This research program will be embedded in health services and focus on practice enhancement, workforce development and service improvement, particularly in relation to ageing and chronic disease.

*Research from National Economics


The La Trobe Rural Health School
A radical and original model for health professional education and research across northern Victoria that will:
•    Transform regional health care outcomes and service delivery in northern Victoria
•    Increase higher education participation rates for rural Victoria.
•    Improve the educational experience for health science students and attract health experts from across the nation.
•    Encourage and strengthen the integration of higher education in northern Victoria.
•    Address major health workforce shortages across northern Victoria.





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