Two Canberra universities have joined forces to deliver new clinical training facilities in southeast NSW, which aim to make healthcare more accessible in regional areas. The University of Canberra (UC) and Australian National University (ANU) officially opened two new clinical training facilities in Cooma and Bega on Friday, 13 November, as part of the South East NSW Health Collaborative project.
The facilities will increase training capability and research in nursing, midwifery, allied health and medicine, with the project making important inroads into the issue of accessibility to healthcare in regional areas, as well as offering potential for collaboration and professional development between health service staff and the universities.
UC is also opening student accommodation in Cooma and Bega, which will allow students to stay in new, modern, self-contained facilities while they are living and learning about delivery of health, disability and aged care services in a regional area.
“There are chronic shortages of all types of health professionals in regional and rural areas,” said Professor Michelle Lincoln, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health at UC. “Supporting students to live and learn in regional areas will assist in addressing these shortages.
“Students who have a positive learning experience and are able to experience firsthand the benefits of rural living are more likely to seek employment in regional and rural areas.”
Professor Russell Gruen, Dean of the ANU College of Health and Medicine, said the ANU is proud to partner with UC, Southern Local Health District, NSW Health, Canberra Health Services and the health professionals of Cooma and Bega to improve health services for the region.
“This partnership and these new facilities provide unique opportunities to train future doctors and nurses together, breaking down the barriers between the professions, and between the city and the bush, to ensure the people in southern NSW receive the high quality healthcare they deserve,” said Professor Gruen.
“As the nation’s university [ANU], we are committed that distance should not be a barrier to accessing good services.”
Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the new $3.25 million clinical training facility in Cooma will give regional residents better access to healthcare in their community.
“On average, we know Australians living in our regions may experience poorer access to health services, leading to poorer health,” he said. “The innovative clinical service hub brings providers under one roof, making it easier for people living in the Snowy Mountains region to access health services.”
NSW Senator Jim Molan attended the official opening in Cooma on 13 November and said it will not only attract trainees to the region, but also boost the economy and create jobs.
“Local construction projects such as this are a great way to grow the local economy and create and maintain local jobs,” he said. “It’s great these important skills will be retained in Cooma and bring about a real improvement in the quality of life for residents and visitors to the region.”
The Federal Government invested a total of $17 million in 2015, under the Health and Hospitals Fund, to build clinical training facilities and student accommodation on the hospital grounds at Cooma, Bega and Moruya.