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Press Conference, Emerald QLD, 19 January 2022, on new rural health training facility

Read the transcript of Minister Gillespie at the Press Conference, Emerald QLD, 19 January 2022, on new rural health training facility.

The Hon Dr David Gillespie MP
Former Minister for Regional Health

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This grew from nothing. You know, we first came out here, I think Fiona Nash came to open the initial facility.

And it's been a great success and doing a great job, not only for Emerald but for the whole Central Highlands. And it takes in more than the Central Highlands too when you think of places like [indistinct] and Longreach and all those places.

We've got a Rural Flying Doctors service there, and all that, it's all coming together, and this is another step forward. It's a great step forward. I thank Dr David Gillespie who's come into Parliament in 2013 I think, David?


A very good year, Kenny. A very good year.


Look what we won. But more so, bringing the cheque book with him. Of course, they don't allow the cheque book to me, but he managed to get that role. And look, this is going to be a great scheme.

We're hearing day in and day out there's no allied health workers, a shortage of allied health workers, shortage of doctors. I've seen more of Dr Ewen McPhee in Canberra than I've seen out in Emerald actually. Because Ewen has always been down there advocating. But what he said to us and said to me, it makes total sense. You know, and it's not a matter for money or [indistinct] GPs. I know GPs can work out and make good money in the country in regional areas, but they would prefer to go and live in in Brisbane or other parts in bigger metropolitan areas. But having said that, we believe that by training locally, you'll help repay those trainees.

So, without further ado, welcome David and welcome to Emerald, mate.


Thank you, Kenny. Well, look, it's great to be here with Kenny. As you just alluded, we both came into parliament at the same time. It's great to be joined by Colin Boyce, the Member for Callide in the Queensland State Government, and the candidate to take over from Kenny, who will be getting 110 per cent support from me and from our National and Liberal colleagues in Federal Parliament.

It's good to have a candidate that knows a lot about how State Governments work because I was just talking to Terry, the mayor, about our mixed-up federation, which has been exposed by COVID.

I think we've got to realise we've got eight health systems in this country. It's a [indistinct]… and things and yeah. But we're not here to talk about that higher level of issue. We're here to talk about a university department of rural health, and I would just like to quickly run through some official recognition.

Obviously. Professor Sabina Knight from the JCU, Kerry Hayes, Paul Bell, the Chair, Wendy and Ewen McPhee, David Molhoek, Jennifer, Jessica, Nadia Harley and Arjun Loma.

Now as Sabina and Kenny were outlining, if we train medical professionals in the regions, not only do they get a superior training because it's much more hands on, we get better clinical access to these essential parts of the health system called patients.

You're not just dealing with textbook knowledge.

And you're not in a big central hospital like Princess Alexandra with all of Brisbane where there's more med students and junior doctors and residents and registrars, PHD people all getting an arm and a leg of all the most important part of the health system, that's patients. So there's a place for everything.

But there's certainly a big place for training in health in regional centres. And university departments of rural health, which up until this announcement, there were 16. There's now going to be a 17th one here.

Now, it was a competitive grants process. There were a lot of people who wanted to get this outcome, but the JCU was the best one. They've got a proven track record. They've got an investment in place. They're going to expand accommodation as well, because you can't have nursing or allied health students or med students without providing an accommodation.

Once they're employed, well, their accommodation is up to them, but the students who need accommodation. So, it's a very holistic project.

$10 million, JCU will use it wisely and it will, over time, deliver huge dividends. You've got to be very patient. The gestation of a nurse practitioner is about four or five years, OT or a physio is four or more, but unfortunately, medicos, these days it's sort of like greater than the gestation of an elephant.

Like, it takes about 10 or 12 years to get your full ticket. But rotating for a long time through this sort of practise really does open the eyes, particularly if they've got accommodation, they could bring a partner.

I did 33 years as a medico before I jumped over into politics. But what I found is, if you get people a couple of years before they're having to make commercial and family decisions, that's the prime time.

You can excite them when they're med students or nursing students. But what really is the sticky period when they're just started, or just about to start. So, having them as a final year nurse or OT, where they're getting serious about whether they'll be able to work in a place like Emerald.

It's going to have pharmacists here in first year and third year, how good is that going to be?

It's almost as hard to get a pharmacist in country Australia as it is to get doctors.

There's a lot of people - I grew up in a country town - that's downtown Queanbeyan.

But it was 5000 people when I was a kid, and now it's about, I don't know, 40,000. But there's plenty of places in the country I've worked.

And my practise was in the country, so I know all about rural medicine.

It's the best and it's the most valuable thing you can do. Because, gee, the impact that you have as a health professional in the country area is far greater than if you're stuck in the middle of Brisbane, or the Gold Coast because they are a dime a dozen.

So, congratulations, Sabina. Congratulations, Kenny. I know Colin is going to work his butt off to make sure that Emerald and the health system continues to flourish. We're so lucky to have him. He's putting his- well; no seat is safe. He's putting his seat in state parliament at risk to run and look after you in this part of the world.

And thanks Ken, for being such a powerful advocate in Canberra. He's done an amazing job.

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