Health professionals in rural and regional Australia wanting to increase their skills are being encouraged to apply for financial support under the Australian Government’s Health Workforce Scholarship Program.

Officially launching the program today, Minister for Rural Health, Bridget McKenzie, said the Government was investing $11 million in the scholarships over three years from 2017 to 2018 to help make health services more accessible for people living in country areas. “The Health Workforce Scholarship Program provides support based on the needs of communities — whether for GPs, nurses, dentists or allied health professionals,” Minister McKenzie said.

“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. “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.”

Geraldton resident and Indigenous Community Business Development Officer, Lenny Papertalk, is one health professional who has made the decision to apply for a scholarship.“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 said.Tim Shackleton, CEO of Rural Health West in Western Australia, said the scholarship program would ultimately help to expand the range of health services available for people living in rural and remote communities in WA.

“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,” he said. “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.” Further information about the Health Workforce Scholarship Program can be found here.

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