The shortage of doctors in rural Australia is of great concern to country communities. One organisation that is seeking to remedy this imbalance and this injustice is Charles Sturt University. It has joined forces with La Trobe University to form the Murray Darling Medical School. It aims to train doctors in the country for future practice in the country.
Less than 10 per cent per cent of Australian medical graduates trained at urban universities choose to work in rural areas. And it is not good enough. There may be an oversupply of doctors in big cities, but there is a chronic shortage of doctors in country Australia.
One of the impediments to establishing the Murray Darling Medical School has been resistance from the established universities and their medical deans. Their resistance resembles a closed shop. And we have had a gutful of it.
There is a place for both the medical training being offered by the older universities and the new approach being taken by Charles Sturt University. I am therefore calling on the medical deans to end their resistance to CSU's proposal and to work with them. All CSU seeks is 180 annual Commonwealth-supported medical student places out of over 3,000. It is not too much to ask.
What the medical deans need to understand is that communities in the country are backing CSU to the hilt on this, and what they want to see is their tertiary institutions working together to benefit country communities. We are not going away. The doors of the closed shop need to be flung open, because country Australia is demanding it.