TONY PASIN MP:
So ladies and gentlemen, it's great to be here with Jonathan, Colin and Minister Gillespie. We're here in Murray Bridge to make a really exciting announcement about the future of allied medical training in the Murraylands in particular. Minister Gillespie is someone I've known for eight and a half years. We entered the Parliament together. He brings to this portfolio a plethora of knowledge around medical services, medical training; and quite frankly, he is amongst one of the most decent men I've served in the Parliament with. You don't need to explain medical health training to this Minister. He gets it. He's lived it. And we're really privileged, actually, that he's joined us in the Parliament because I'm sure he could be doing other things in your profession but he's taken this opportunity to join the Parliament in this portfolio position to drag policy decisions around medical health training forward and to do it from a position of such knowledge.
Minister, it's great to have you in Murray Bridge. It's even better when you come with a bucket of money. Thank you very much. I'll leave you to describe that, but it's effectively a really strong commitment to person-centred, multidisciplinary health training here in the Murraylands.
So, Minister, over to you.
Okay. Well, thanks so much, Tony. Well, Tony Pasin and I both came in - it was a very good vintage in the 2013 election, and he's been doing great things in South Australia. He's a very fierce and effective advocate for his principles, but also, and most importantly, for his electorate. And yeah, as you say, rural health has been running in my veins for a long time, having grown up with a- these days, he would have been called a rural generalist. Our dad was a country GP. He delivered about 4500 thousand babies over 45 years in a country town called Queanbeyan, which was there long before Canberra turned up. And, yeah. And then, I worked as a wardsman in a country hospital. I worked as everything.
But my journey to be a doctor, I really only became a doctor when I got sent on country terms, both as a student down in Moss Vale, working in a general practice surgery. And then, once I'd gone through my internship, I got sent in New South Wales - many of you probably know, Bathurst, Orange, Dubbo. Well, I did terms as both as a resident and then as a junior registrar on those terms. And even though you had the rubber stamp from Uni and you were registered on the medical board's roll, I only actually became a real doctor where you diagnosed, decided on treatment and instituted the treatment and had to carry the can because you're it. And the rural training experience, we found in, before the Murray-Darling School Network both as a - we set up a mini Murray-Darling School Network with an end-to-end med school in Port Macquarie, which used to be in the heartland of my electorate.
So that's where that idea- and it's got legs. But you know that old saying it takes a village to raise a child? Well, it takes a team of people to look after a patient. These days, patients very rarely come in with one problem or very rarely have one problem, so you need a suite of health professionals. And sure, everyone knows about doctors and nurses and midwives, but the OT, the speech therapy, the physiotherapy, the rehab from hospital, getting children to speak and hear correctly to get child development going, to get disabled people with chronic medical conditions moving, you need all those other health professionals, and that's what multi-disciplinary training is all about. The Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program is that. There's a network of med schools here in South Australia. It's Flinders, Adelaide Uni, and Uni SA, and I was here about three or four weeks ago announcing that there's $60 million, up from 58 and a bit, going into South Australia for these rural health multidisciplinary training sites.
But to add to that, we have also- out of the last budget- this is not a hypothesised on us being government. This is real money now. It's already here, lots of it. It's been going for 20 years or so. But this is expanding into this area with $1.94 million to get another 18 trainees into this precinct, dealing both with the Aboriginal Medical Service Moorundi, with the local health network here, with other players, doctors, health professionals, and it's going to be a great extension because not only does it get people who want to come back here because they live and work in this area for a big chunk of life, it's also a great workforce attractant. It allows you to grow the professional attractiveness of the area to other health professionals. And what better than being involved with an internationally recognised university teaching the best and brightest that turns out and comes to a country area?
So congratulations. I think that's- and as I added inside with the VC, Colin, thank god you've got Tony in your patch, because as I said, his years as a lawyer, barrister, being an advocate, it's really good to have an effective parliamentarian in your team. Okay.
Thank you, thank you. I might just ask in a moment- I might just ask Robyn to say a few words about some of the specifics of what's actually going to be delivered in the program. But can I also first start by acknowledging that we meet here today on Ngarrindjeri land, and I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging. I also want to thank the Minister very much for coming here today, welcoming you to our facilities but also to thank you for that nearly $2 million announcement that you've just made. And Tony, thank you for your advocacy and support. It's extremely important, as the Minister says, to have strong voices that are standing up for communities around the- around South Australia and of course elsewhere. I'd just very briefly say that this is an extension to what has been done and ongoing at Flinders for many, many years. We have a long and proud history in teaching and developing medical graduates, of course. Also graduates across a whole bunch of allied health and nursing disciplines. And we have been delivering training opportunities in rural and regional areas including here in Mount Barker, in Berri, across South Australia, also up through the Territory. We're in fact responsible for RHMT contracts that are covering communities across 30 per cent of Australian land mass. It's a very major exercise, and some people - including Robyn in particular - do a lot of travels as a consequence.
But this is a very important part of what we do, and this extension enables us to extend the places and the opportunities available for regional and rural training, to disciplines- as the Minister said, disciplines beyond medicine, beyond nursing, into areas such as OT, physio, speech therapy, audio and so forth. And we all know that having students do placements in communities is the best way to get them engaged with what it's like to be a professional in those communities. And we know that we've got a fantastic record in our students, our graduates than going to work in communities just like this one. And so we're determined to extend and expand that as much as we possibly can and welcome the opportunities and the funding to do this today. And Robyn, you might just say a word about some of the specifics that come from this extension.
Thank you Colin. I'd also like to acknowledge the traditional owners, and particularly acknowledge the partners in this project. So, Flinders works across that footprint, and we don't do that without the really good close relationships of our partners. So, Riverland, Mallee Coorong Local Health Network and TAFE SA are really key partners for this project. We will take a number of months scoping out what the communities here need. It's a project that is aimed to boost the amount of care that we can provide in communities using students alongside trained allied health generalists - the Minister mentioned generalists before - to provide hopefully additional speech pathology, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, care for people in this region, particularly our Indigenous population, which is largest in this area of South Australia.
And alongside that, having a really culturally safe service. So Sharon Perkins from RMC is absolutely key to this. We'll have a cultural adviser who works closely with us, as well as educators across a number of the health services. We've got a team here in Murray Bridge. We've got a team in Berri, we've got a team in Renmark, all working across this amazing footprint of country as well as the health services and the population. So thank you, Minister. It's- it is an extension. It's enabled us to do something we couldn't do without this funding. And Member Pasin, we look forward to working in your electorate.
TONY PASIN MP:
Well, all in all, a really positive announcement for the Murraylands and surrounds. 18 additional allied health professionals on the ground, providing the services that the community needs, but quite frankly, deserves, all made possible thanks to the Minister's commitment of close to $2 million. So with that, any questions?
Is this funding across a number of the Flinders Rural and remote health sites, or specific to this site here in Murray Bridge?
It's focussed on here, but the tentacles go out from here in the immediate region.
The- this region, like other areas of South Australia, is unique. We have some hubs here in Murray Bridge, in Berri, but connecting lots of small towns that otherwise wouldn't actually get those services. So, from here, we'll have some housing for students and they can actually live here in the communities and outreach with our health partners out to smaller places, out to Lameroo, out to Meningie, out to Mannum, other small places here in the region.
TONY PASIN MP:
I think it's safe to say it's the Murraylands, Riverland and surrounds.
And that's what makes this program different, I guess, is that students can live in the community and there's an approach on more of the allied health disciplines
The only other thing I was going to ask is how many students come through this school at present? How many staff are on the ground here at the moment?
My staff on the ground can probably answer that. Naomi?
Yeah, we probably- we have two permanent medical students that are based in Murray Bridge, but there's 12 in the region. And then for nursing, allied, we'd probably be looking around 200 to 300 students a year.
200 to 300.
TONY PASIN MP:
That come through the facility.
Fantastic. With that, thanks everyone for your time.