New Central Queensland healthcare training site announced

James Cook University is set to establish a rural health centre at Emerald in a boost for rural and remote health in Queensland's Central Highlands.

Professor Sabina Knight, Director of JCU's Murtupuni Centre for Rural and Remote Health at Mount Isa, said the new Central Queensland Centre for Rural and Remote Health (CQCRRH) will establish training sites in Emerald and outreach to the Gemfields region with plans for future expansion to Biloela.

"We currently have a modest established presence in Emerald and this is a fabulous opportunity to partner with the community, health services and practices to develop the health workforce in and for Central Queensland," said Professor Knight.

She said around 43 per cent of healthcare workers in rural and remote areas of Queensland are JCU graduates.

"JCU is committed to the people of rural and remote Queensland, evidenced by our current operations and our graduate destinations. This new university department of rural health will allow us to grow that, particularly for the Central Queensland Region," said Professor Knight.

She said the new centre will enhance clinical placements, embedding students into practices, services, organisations and communities, and build engagement with Indigenous communities.

"It will extend employment opportunities for local clinicians, delivering much-needed primary care and allied health services to under-served communities," said Professor Knight.

The federal government is funding the program through the Department of Health's Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program with an initial $10m over 2 years and around $4.5m recurrent thereafter.

The Minister for Regional Health, Dr David Gillespie, said the creation of the CQCRRH is part of the Australian Government's commitment to increase the health workforce in rural, regional and remote communities.

"Delivering quality rural health training requires a viable university presence across rural Australia. The new Centre fills a geographic gap in tertiary health education, and is a welcome announcement for people living in Central Queensland who are interested in a health career – and the broader community," said Dr Gillespie.

"Partnerships, collaboration and rural integrity are core values of the program and our university. The community, local governments and health services have been so supportive of the proposal – we are looking forward to further developing our Centre in the region and we are off to a good start in 2022!" Professor Knight said

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