Innovation redefines the rural nurse of today

The first sod has been turned to expand La Trobe University’s Nursing Simulation Suite in Mildura to facilitate increased student enrolments that will address workforce demands.

The new nursing clinical simulation suite will be an extension to the Brian Grogan building and will feature two state-of-the-art clinical laboratories built to hospital standards.

The $4.97 million project will provide students with an immersive and realistic experience where they will obtain job-ready skills that will increase their employability. The clinical laboratories will deliver improved teaching and learning experiences by creating a hands-on, technology-enabled environment.

La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar AO, said the University was proud to take a leadership role in providing tangible pathways to an ever-expanding regional health workforce.

“We are committed to contributing to the growth of a skilled workforce and more regionally based qualified healthcare professionals,” Professor Dewar said.

“This project will be the most advanced clinical training environment in the Mildura district, providing an opportunity to bring health organisations onto the campus for professional development activities.

“This is part of a $170 million program of investment we are making across all our campuses to improve the quality and capacity of our health education facilities.”

The extension will double the capacity of the La Trobe Rural Health School to accommodate student growth, with two separate clinical laboratories comprising of four beds each.

Nursing at La Trobe University is ranked in the top 100 globally, according to the QS World University Rankings for 2023. In Mildura, nursing students currently represent more than 70 per cent of the entire campus cohort.

Professor Jane Mills, Dean of La Trobe’s Rural Health School, said the new facility will further cement the University’s reputation for providing world-class rural health education.

“La Trobe’s Mildura campus is integral to the local workforce, with 86 per cent of students staying and working in the region upon graduation,” Professor Mills said.

“Regional communities are crying out for more nurses and midwives. This investment in cutting-edge facilities will complement our strong links to partner healthcare organisations such as the Mildura Base Public Hospital meaning when these students emerge as professionals, they will be in an ideal position to ease some of that pressure.”

Construction will commence imminently and is scheduled for completion by the 2025 Academic Year.

The new clinical simulation suite will be named after Dr Deb Neal, who contributed to the University for more than three decades spending her final nine years, between 2013 to 2022, as the Mildura Head of Campus. Dr Neal was La Trobe Mildura’s first ever employee who started in 1991.

The recognition of Dr Neal’s contribution aligns with the campus’ celebration of 20 years in the community; honouring the founder of the Regional Advisory Board, Brian Grogan, who led a campaign in 1993 for the establishment of a new standalone campus in Mildura, which opened a decade later.

Media Contact

Jess Whitty -, 0481 383 817