JOURNALIST: Just tell us a little bit about today, I understand that there are 20 places here through Commonwealth support?
EMMA MCBRIDE, ASSISTANT MINISTER: It's a really important day in the future of rural and regional health. We know that training students in regional communities is the first step to building our rural and regional health workforce. And I'm so proud to be here today on behalf of the Albanese Labor Government and Health Minister Mark Butler, to see this progress. The first 20 students will be able to do the whole their six year medical degree out of this campus in Cairns. We know what a difference it makes to training rural and regional students in the regions to build a strong regional health workforce, especially in general practice.
JOURNALIST: Is the aim of this, I mean, we do have a doctor shortage particularly in regional Queensland, regional Australia, is the idea of having these 20 placements to help with that down the track?
EMMA MCBRIDE, ASSISTANT MINISTER: This is intended to build a pipeline of health workers to regional communities. We know that in Australia, most of our healthcare workers live and work in major cities, and the first step to being able to have the health practitioners in the right place at the right time, is training them and providing the right support in regional and rural communities. So there's two aims of this. One is to create a pipeline at the community level, and the other is to boost access to care, affordably, close to home. We know that the further you live outside of a big city in Australia, the worse your health outcomes are likely to be, and 30 per cent of Australia lives in our regions.
JOURNALIST: And we hope to continue this program by 20 places each year for the next 10 years?
EMMA MCBRIDE, ASSISTANT MINISTER: We're working very closely with Education Minister Jason Clare to make sure that practitioners are a strong priority of our Government. To see today so many students who are the first in their family to go to university, students who are from low socioeconomic backgrounds, students from the regions. This is what our Government is attempting to do, to make sure that we can grow and train our rural workforce and provide the health care, particularly primary care, that locals need and deserve.