ACU receives $8.7m funding to boost nursing wards, health research and IT

ACU has received $8.7 million from the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund for five new projects that will spearhead health research projects, deliver new nursing labs and improve student experience.

Headlining the funding package is the new $1.9 million nurse training ward in Ballarat – which will double ACU’s capacity for pre-clinical training of nurses – and the refurbishment of existing facilities to cater for students with special needs at the regional campus.

Victorian Minister for Training and Skills and Higher Education, Gayle Tierney, announced the funding package during a visit to the Ballarat campus today.

The package also includes:

  • $2 million to acquire research equipment to develop new therapy treatments for people living with life-threatening conditions like obesity and diabetes.
  • $1.4 million to create culturally safe spaces for learning and support at the Ballarat campus for Aboriginal and CALD students and those who have accessibility requirements.
  • $1.6 million to transform existing learning spaces at the Melbourne and Ballarat campuses to support flexible education, including technology like virtual reality.
  • $1.8 million to upgrade the secure IT network at the Melbourne and Ballarat campuses to support remote learning and allow for better integration between campuses.

Construction on the new Ballarat nursing wards has already begun and is expected to be completed next year.

ACU Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Zlatko Skrbis said the funding would allow ACU to make important progress on the road to post COVID-19 recovery, with applied research, research partnerships and important infrastructure works.

“We are Australia’s largest educator of nurses, and at this time — when the importance of our frontline health workforce has been so strongly highlighted — we are committed to meeting the growing demand for nurses, paramedics and other healthcare workers,” Professor Skrbis said.

“One of the ways we are doing this is by bringing world-class nurse training facilities to Ballarat to develop our simulation ward to increase our capacity to train pre-clinical nurses and boost our status as the leading provider of nursing graduates.”

ACU Associate Vice-Chancellor (VIC) Dr John Ballard, who welcomed Minister Tierney to the Ballarat campus, said the funding would allow ACU to further develop key partnerships in health, education and other priority research areas.

“We have formed a strong collaboration with the St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research, and we are very pleased that — with the State Government’s support — we will be able to cement that partnership and continue to conduct leading-edge research with real-world impact.

Dr Ballard said the funding would go towards state-of-the-art equipment and would result in applied research, providing training for early-career scientists, enabling industry engagement through existing and new collaborations, and deliver evidence-based recommendations for therapies to combat the rise of chronic metabolic disease.

The $350 million Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund was developed in response to the significant impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the tertiary sector.

It aims to support universities with capital works, research infrastructure projects and applied research focused on boosting Victoria’s productivity and economy as the state recovers from the pandemic.

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