7 October 2023

Improving rural healthcare as Riverina gears up for allied health student boost

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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The Department of Regional NSW has invested $1 million per year over three years into the Rural Allied Health Educator Program. Photo: iStock/Cecilie Arcurs.

Riverina communities are set to benefit from a major boost to allied health services with the Rural Allied Health Educator Program.

As part of the program, the Allied Health educators will directly supervise allied health students who are treating patients, provide teaching, and coordinate clinical placements to help ensure the students have great experiences in regional NSW.

Students will be given experience across a range of clinical areas during the four to six weeks of clinical placements.

Minister for Regional Health Ryan Park said the program will create a pipeline of Allied Health workers to the region.

“The Rural Allied Health Educator Program will support the employment of up to seven Allied Health Educators across these four regional Local Health Districts, which will boost the number of allied health student clinical placements we can provide,” Mr Park said.

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“By bringing these clinical educators on board, more than 100 additional speech pathology, occupational therapy and other allied health students will undertake clinical placements across these regions each year.

“We are doubling the number of allied health students who undertake clinical placements.”

Murrumbidgee Private Health Network (MPHN) welcomed the NSW Government’s Rural Allied Health Educator Program announcement supporting the employment of Allied Health Educators across regional Local Health Districts, including the Murrumbidgee Local Health District.

“MPHN welcomes any progress towards increasing the number of allied health workers in regional and rural NSW,” said a spokesperson from MPHN.

“Allied health workers form a critical part of the Murrumbidgee region’s primary healthcare system and increasing residents’ access to these services will help reduce wait times, increase access to specialised care, and enhance community wellbeing.”

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Minister for Regional NSW Tara Moriarty emphasized the critical importance of expanding student clinical placements to enhance the future allied health workforce in rural and regional NSW.

She said the need arises from the significant demand for these services, especially concerning children and families.

“Allied health professionals play a vital role in the health system, delivering patient-centred care to the community across a number of specialities including occupational therapy, speech pathology, psychology and much more,” Ms Moriarty said.

“We are very pleased to help create stronger training and education pathways for future allied health staff in NSW.

“This program will help support rural allied health clinicians, and we encourage them to apply for new graduate and early career roles within regional Local Health Districts in the future.”

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