Parkes and Forbes will reap the benefits of a grant of $1.87 million to expand allied health student training and placements in the two towns.
The two-year project will see about 53 students placed in Parkes and Forbes by Charles Sturt University for an average of five weeks per year, totalling approximately 265 placement weeks annually.
“This investment enables Charles Sturt University to provide intensive, high-quality rural education experiences in Forbes and Parkes through its Three Rivers Department of Rural Health,” said Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack at the announcement in Parkes last Thursday.
“Through the additional local training and placement opportunities, students across a range of allied health disciplines – including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, exercise physiology, speech pathology and podiatry – will have exposure to the delivery of rural health care.”
The project not only entails the support of clinical placements, but also accommodation with a four-bedroom house to be purchased in Forbes, while Charles Sturt University has also set aside funding for a house in Parkes.
Parkes Shire Mayor Ken Keith and Forbes Shire Mayor Phyllis Miller both welcomed the announcement saying their advocacy for better health services was starting to show some results.
According to Megan Smith, Executive Dean – Faculty of Science and Health, Charles Sturt University, there are about 4,000 students studying in allied health professions at the university of which 30 come from Parkes and Forbes.
The Parkes Country University Centre (CUC) will provide crucial student support for the delivery of training.