Thursday, 23 March 2023
Sam Birrell (Nicholls, National Party) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source
I rise to talk about regional universities. Regional universities are so important. Without them, I wouldn't be here. I had the good fortune to pursue a degree in agricultural science. Fortunately, thanks to the commitment of the University of Melbourne, that agricultural science degree was available in a place called Dookie in my electorate and I was able to study a Bachelor of Applied Science in agriculture. Later in life, I wanted to come back and do some further study. Thanks to the commitment of La Trobe University—La Trobe University were running a regional MBA program—I was able to complete a regional MBA program in Shepparton, in my hometown, working full-time and going to night school from six to nine. Regional universities are important, so the governments of the day continue to commit to those universities that are prepared to commit to regional areas.
One great example, also in my electorate, is the Department of Rural Health at the University of Melbourne. The Department of Rural Health is a great collaboration between La Trobe University and the University of Melbourne. Students can do a Bachelor of Biomedicine as an undergraduate degree in regional areas of Victoria, and then they can graduate to a postgraduate Doctor of Medicine, all in Shepparton, studying in Shepparton and going over the road to get some practical, hands-on experience in the hospital, Goulburn Valley Health. It's a great initiative that the former coalition government created and facilitated, and there are a multitude of young medical students now who making their home in the Goulburn Valley and are going to be fantastic regional GPs. They're going to stay because they've put down roots. There's data that shows that where people train is where they work.
I met some of those students last week. We're so rapt to have them in our community. As everyone will be aware, GP shortages in the regions have been a continuing problem. This is a solid solution that is going to fix that, and we're going to see 40 new GPs per year graduating, as of the end of next year, coming out and flourishing in our regional areas.
An opposition member: Can I have some?
Yes. We'll be sharing them everywhere! The point is that they will be regionally based. We have another great initiative on the books. That has work so well that we want to do with allied health. Latrobe University and Goulburn Valley Health have a great initiative to create a clinical health school. We made a commitment to it before the last election. I am hoping that the Labor government can see its way to support this fantastic initiative that will mean that there are more allied health and more nursing staff in our aged-care facilities and in our hospitals—regional kids going to regional universities, doing jobs that are desperately needed in the regions, and I commend the project to all in this place.