More than 35 allied health students each year will undertake placements and hands-on training in Katherine health clinics thanks to a grant from the Federal Coalition Government.
The new program will increase local access to occupational therapists, speech pathologists and social workers for patients in Katherine.
In addition to providing around 260 weeks of new placement opportunities for 36 students each year, three additional allied health clinicians and an Aboriginal allied health assistant will be employed.
Flinders University Northern Territory will receive $1.9 million in Federal funding from the Coalition Government for the Katherine Regional Collaborative Allied Health Placement Program.
Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie visited the site today to meet local staff and make the announcement, that will help to improve the recruitment and retention of local allied health professionals.
“There is growing evidence that students who have a positive and rewarding extended training experience in a rural or remote area are more likely to take up rural practice upon graduation, which is what this site will help to provide for students,” Dr Gillespie said.
“A focus of the new allied health placement program will be to increase placement numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students undertaking their training in Katherine.”
Dr Gillespie said the project had strong local support. It is a partnership with Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) and two Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) — Wurli-Wurlinjang and the Katherine West Health Board (KWHB).
Dr Gillespie said the partnership with Wurli-Wurlinjang will enable the employment of speech pathology and occupational therapy supervisors to support allied health students at its clinics.
Allied Health supervisors will be employed through Flinders University to supervise final-year allied health students within local health services.
The Aboriginal allied health assistant will be employed full-time to support the students and supervisors, and assist the team to work with local schools, families, community, and the health service to improve engagement, coordination and integrated care.
The site will also support the development of a Katherine-located IAHA Health Academy, mirroring its successful Darwin model.
It will also provide a scholarship for one allied health assistant traineeship, supported through the Academy and embedded into Wurli-Wurlinjang.
The partnership with KWHB will enable a part-time social work supervisor to be employed to join the social work team. Social work students will work under supervision as part of the team.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students will be a priority and they will be guided by IAHA, which will mentor and support both supervisors and students on placement,” Dr Gillespie said.
“The local Katherine economy will get a boost too because along with the employment of more staff and the increase in students on placement, Flinders NT will purchase additional student accommodation and an 8-seater vehicle to transport students and supervision staff.”