We have some good news for regionally or rurally based health professionals, such as exercise physiologists and dietitians, who want to increase their skills – the Australian government is currently inviting applications for financial support, through its Health Workforce Scholarship Program.
Minister for Rural Health, Bridget McKenzie recently announced the Government was investing $11 million in the scholarships over three years from 2017-18 to help improve the accessibility of health services for people living in regional or remote areas.
“The Health Workforce Scholarship Program provides support based on the needs of communities — whether for GPs, nurses, dentists or allied health professionals,” said Minister McKenzie. “The program is delivering better outcomes for patients in rural and regional communities across Australia by supporting health practitioners to build up their professional skills. Support may be provided to health professionals already working in areas experiencing a shortage of services, or to those willing to move to areas where there is a lack of services. Importantly, most of the scholarships in the forthcoming round will include a ‘return of service’ obligation to ensure the recipients practise in rural and regional Australia for at least 12 months on completion of their studies.”
Lenny Papertalk has applied for the scholarship, to develop her role as an Indigenous Community Business Development Officer in Geraldton.
“I will be applying for a scholarship to pursue a Masters of Social Work at University of Western Australia, after having identified a high number of youth suffering from depression and mental illness within the Indigenous communities in Geraldton,” she explained. “I’m very committed to making a difference in rural health, so am hopeful of gaining this scholarship in order to improve health outcomes in my community.”
CEO of Rural Health West in Western Australia, Tim Shackleton believes the scholarship program will ultimately help to expand the range of health services available for people living in the state’s country communities.
He said, “The Health Workforce Scholarship Program will provide grants to postgraduate rural health professionals undertaking further study in the field of medicine, nursing or allied health. One-off bursary and support payments are available to help cover the cost of attending training and these payments can be put towards course fees, conference registrations, and accommodation and transports costs.”
The Health Workforce Scholarship Program is led by Health Workforce Queensland, and is administered by a consortium of Rural Workforce Agencies (RWAs), which are situated throughout Australia. The RWAs work closely with Primary Health Networks, local and state governments and other workforce planning groups to identify where skills are needed. To find out more about the Health Workforce Scholarship Program, including how to apply for a scholarship visit your state’s Rural Workforce Agencies website.