Rural and regional communities will receive a boost to their health thanks to new reforms championed by the Liberal and National parties.
Today the House of Representatives passed a bill introduced by the Coalition prior to the last election that will encourage doctors and nurse practitioners to relocate to rural and regional Australia by providing a partial or full reduction to their HECS debt.
Doctors and nurses who choose to relocate to the most remote parts of Australia, and practice for a period equivalent to half of the length of their degree, which for a doctor would be around four years, will have their full HECS debt waived.
This would include areas such as Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, Mallacoota in Victoria, or Tasmania’s Bruny Island.
Similarly, if they choose to relocate to rural or regional areas and undertake the same length of practice, they will have half of their HECS debt waived or the full debt for working the equivalent of their entire degree. This includes areas like Dubbo and Lismore in New South Wales and Busselton in south west Western Australia.
It is expected that around 850 GPs and nurse practitioners will take up this incentive.
“These important reforms were introduced by the Coalition in Government to help ensure rural and regional Australians have the same access to GPs and nurses as people in the cities,” Shadow Minister for Education Alan Tudge said.
“This fee waiver will make it more attractive for students studying medicine and nursing to consider regional practice after graduating.”
Shadow Minister for Regional Health Andrew Gee said this measure will go a long way to address the significant disadvantage regional Australians experience in accessing quality healthcare.
“Around one in five Australians in regional Australia report not having access to a nearby General Practitioner.”
“This has serious long-term implications and, in many cases, means a lower life expectancy and more issues with preventable diseases.”
“The Liberal and National parties will continue to fight for regional Australians to be able to access the services they deserve.”