Ian CausleyMember for Page- CanberraConnection

Budget delivering rural doctors

The Northern Rivers could benefit from a Budget initiative announcing both an increase in the number of medical student places, and initiatives to increase the number of doctors in rural areas.

The Budget provides more than $60 million in extra funding for an additional 400 places for first-year medical students, with many of the new places being bonded to rural hospitals.

These bonded medical-school places will be offered with low fees on condition that after graduation, the student contract to work in rural areas where there is a shortage of doctors.

Its well known that people who grow up in the country, or spend some time living there, are more likely to choose to work there professionally. This funding will bring more medical students from rural areas back to the country.

One-stop-shop health register

Over the next two years, $1.2 million has been earmarked to explore options for redeveloping the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) into a whole-of-life register.

The ACIR currently reports on the immunisation status of children up to seven years of age, with the study to investigate the feasibility of including adult immunisations such as tetanus, influenza and pneumococcal vaccines.

If successful, the new look register would provide doctors and health care providers with access to a patients complete immunisation history. In addition, consideration will be given to integrating the bowel screening register and the organ donor register into the ACIR.

Since the ACIR was implemented 10 years ago as an instrument to monitor and improve childhood immunisation, rates of immunisation have increased from 50 per cent to more than 90 per cent.

Australian Technical College update

Following a short but mischievous visit to Ballina recently by Labors Jenny Macklin, I thought Id dispel a few of the mistruths that she and the Labor Party are trying to push regarding the establishment of a local Australian Technical College (ATC).

Labors claim that a local schools application to run a Northern Rivers-based College failed because of the federal governments industrial relations changes is both false and ridiculous. The schools application simply did not meet the criteria.

ATCs will employ tradespeople to impart the necessary skills training not school teachers. After all, most school teachers are not qualified tradespeople and, therefore, do not have the qualifications or industry experience necessary.

Furthermore, all ATCs will be run by a local industry-based board that will identify skills needs in that particular community and lead interested students into training for those identified vacancies. The idea of the College, therefore, is to give students those industry-identified jobs not simply education or training.

The Labor Party is attacking these colleges because Labor and the unions dont want ATC employees offered the choice to take up an Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA), even though those staff could earn higher wages from performance-based pay. Labor is also trying to hide the fact that the federal government is not making AWAs compulsory for ATC staff. Instead, staff will have the option to choose an AWA or an award.

The Lismore/Ballina area was promised an Australian Technical College and it will have one. First, though, we need to find a suitable applicant to run it.

Office contacts

Phone: 6621 9909

Fax: 6621 9959

Address: PO Box 1119, Lismore, 2480

Email: ian.causley.mp@aph.gov.au


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