Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton made the national announcement today in Mildura and was joined by Federal Member for Mallee, Dr Anne Webster and National Rural Health Commissioner, Professor Ruth Stewart.
Robinvale and Dareton join more 15 remote areas around the country that will benefit from an announcement today by the Coalition Government to attract more doctors to their communities.
Minister Coulton said the Federal Government’s expansion of the Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) targeted recruitment pilot to more locations is providing better access to doctors in the bush.
The expansion involves providing wage security to doctors while they train to become GP specialists.
“The Federal Government understands the importance of addressing GP shortages in the bush and that it requires a range of initiatives that support training, recruitment and retention.”
“This particular scheme is one of those initiatives delivering structured distance education and supervision to doctors while they provide medical services in rural and remote locations.”
Places identified as having a high medical workforce need have priority for this program. This includes Streaky Bay in SA, Tennant Creek in NT, Mount Isa in QLD, Smithton in Tasmania, Fitzroy Crossing in WA and Cobar in NSW.
“In the past, many of these towns have experienced difficulties in recruiting doctors, and the Government is delighted to help the new recruits join these communities to start work,” Minister Coulton said.
Dr Webster said the Coalition Government understood that doctors and other primary and allied professionals are in short supply in Mallee.
“The gaps in service delivery in Robinvale are evident, and I’m pleased that the town will benefit from this support,” Dr Webster said.
“I am fully behind the ‘train local, stay local’ mantra. The evidence shows that if we grow our own talent in the regions, people are far more likely to stay in the long term.
“We also need a focus on upskilling the workforce we already have to provide the best outcomes for patients; and the RVTS’s targeted recruitment considers both of these principles.
“I look forward to seeing the benefits of the scheme in Mallee. Your health status should not be determined by your postcode. I’ll keep fighting for positive change in healthcare.”
Minister Coulton said flexibility for GP training employment arrangements was one of the issues raised by the National Rural Health Commissioner’s Rural Generalist Taskforce.
“Which is why this week, Professor Stewart has joined me for a health tour of rural Victoria and New South Wales to gain a thorough understanding of the local issues,” Minister Coulton said.
“New positions need to be attractive to trainees, which includes supporting doctors to move between hospitals and primary care settings.
“Having undertaken remote practice for a number of years, I understand first-hand the benefits and opportunities that training in a rural or remote location provides, so it’s imperative that it’s as attractive as possible for young doctors,” Professor Stewart said.
The pilot will:
- Trial new innovative employment models to improve the attraction of GP trainees in rural and remote areas;
- Contribute to better distribution of GP registrars across remote areas of Australia; and
- Support rural and remote communities to attract and retain doctors.
Minister Coulton said the Federal Government is testing new models to ensure people living and working in rural, regional and remote Australia have access to safe, quality health care while giving practical support to the next generation of GPs.
This pilot supports the Australian Government’s efforts to improve health service delivery through the $550 million Stronger Rural Health Strategy. An increased investment of $5 million in this program has been made in the 2020-21 financial year.
The aim of the RVTS is to support medical practitioners to gain fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and/or the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, by allowing them to access education and supervision in locations (below) where it is usually difficult to access training, while they continue to provide medical services to their community.
- These locations are: Tennant Creek, Badu Island, Streaky Bay, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek, Katherine, Cobar, Lake Cargelligo, Clermont, Mount Isa, St George, Cleve, Kimba, Elliston, Cowell, Dareton, Smithton and Robinvale
This is achieved by funding two streams of doctors:
- Stream A – doctors working in rural and remote Australia in Modified Monash (MM) Model 4-7 locations (22 places commencing each year); and
- Stream B - doctors working in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) in MM 2-7 locations (10 places commencing each year). ENDS