Sometimes in politics, you get the chance to be involved in something that can make a true and lasting difference to local communities.
The recent announcement in the federal budget of the creation of the Murray Darling Medical Schools Network is one such occasion.
At the heart of the new $95.4 million five school network is a brand new medical school that will be established in Orange through a partnership between Charles Sturt University (CSU) and the University of Western Sydney (which already has a presence in Bathurst).
After a decade of campaigning, countless setbacks and some fierce resistance, it’s mission accomplished!
Andrew with Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack and Minster for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie at Charles Sturt University.
Make no mistake, this initiative is transformational for country Australia. It will change the practice of medicine in our country areas for generations by taking country students and training them in the bush for practice as doctors in the bush.
The planning for the new school has already started. It will be built at CSU and will begin accepting students in 2021.
The extraordinary thing about the campaign for this new medical school has been that it has come from the grassroots of our communities. Many community groups and individuals took up the cause, along with many of our party members who spoke in favour of this proposal at conference after conference!
Country people die younger than city people, and that’s the cold hard truth. Their health outcomes are worse on just about every measure and lack of access to medical services and health professionals plays a big part in this. It’s not acceptable.
The reason I believe that the campaign resonated so much is that country people know first-hand about the impact of doctor shortages. The folks in our communities are the ones who have to wait weeks or months just to see a GP or specialist. They are the ones that can’t get a new GP to their town when the existing ones move away or retire.
This campaign has been very much about equality between the city and the bush.
The Murray Darling Medical Schools Network will provide life-changing opportunities for country students and make a real difference to the lives of country patients.
Thank you to everyone who supported the campaign. It was a long and sometimes rough ride, but we got there – and it was worth it!
Andrew Gee MP
Member for Calare