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Vice Chancellor from the University of Southern Queensland Professor Janet Verbyla, Darling Downs Hospital and Health Board chair Mike Horan, Member for Groom Dr John McVeigh and Executive Dean, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, University of Queensland Bruce Abernethy in Canberra last year to discuss their bid for a University Departments of Rural Health to be based in Toowoomba.
The University of Southern Queensland is part of an exciting opportunity in rural and regional health following an announcement by the Federal Government today (13 April).

The Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program announced $54.4 million in initiatives Australia-wide for 26 new Regional Training Hubs and three University Departments of Rural Health (UDRH).

The Hospital and Health Services of Darling Downs and South West will partner the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) and the University of Queensland (UQ) to operate a UDRH, an initiative to grow and sustain the regional and rural health workforce.

USQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Janet Verbyla said the establishment of a UDRH in the region was a major boost for training, education and research in rural health in Queensland and provided an opportunity to improve exposure of rural health careers to allied health, nursing and midwifery students.

It will be called ‘Southern Queensland Rural Health’ (SQRH), and will host students from the professions of nursing, midwifery, physiotherapy, pharmacy, psychology, social work, occupational therapy, speech pathology, dietetics and exercise physiology; and will have a presence in both the Darling Downs and South West Hospital and Health Service communities as well as the western portion of the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service coverage area.

There will also be the potential for students to undertake placements with non-government and private health services across the region – such as Aboriginal Medical Services and local GP practices.

“Students undertaking placement with Southern Queensland Rural Health will experience valuable grounding in rural practice which will open their eyes to the opportunities and diverse range of professional and lifestyle experiences available in rural as well as regional areas,” Professor Verbyla said.

“Proactive support will be provided for students to fully immerse themselves in the local communities in which they are delivering health care services.”

Member for Groom Dr John McVeigh said these announcements strengthened the surrounding region as a destination for health education and training.

“It’s a great place for students to learn, but also provides pathways for them to continue a career in the region,” Dr McVeigh said.

“Supporting rural health training is an important way to address rural health workforce shortages. These initiatives will help the Australian Government deliver on its commitment to provide first rate health and medical services to all Australians – regardless of where they live.”