28 May 2024

SA Government pledges $1m injection for RFDS Far North health centre plan

| Andrew McLaughlin
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concept art of healthcare building

An artist’s impression of the RFDS Far North regional healthcare centre. Image: RFDS SA/NT.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service’s (RFDS) plan to build a state-of-the-art health, research and education centre in South Australia’s Far North has been given a boost, with the State Government pledging $1 million towards the project.

To be built near Port Augusta, the centre will provide increased access to multidisciplinary primary health care for the local community, and for more than 1600 existing RFDS clients who live remotely but visit Port Augusta regularly.

It will support 25,000 patient consultations a year, covering general practice, mental health, occupational therapy, chronic disease management, Aboriginal health, digital health, and oral health services.

SA Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Clare Scriven said the funding would come from the government’s Thriving Regions Fund Enabling Infrastructure program, which is designed to focus on the needs of regional communities and key regional initiatives. The Enabling Infrastructure program is part of the $15 million Thriving Regions Fund, which supports projects that enable regional industries to create jobs and strengthen regional communities.

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“This project will support the development of infrastructure for the wider benefit of our regional communities, which is a key goal of the Enabling Infrastructure program,” Ms Scriven said.

“This facility in Port Augusta forms the foundation for providing rural and remote health care in remote South Australia and will provide a much-needed service for so many people in the area and further afield thanks to the RFDS.

“Enhancing and supporting our resilient regional communities is vitally important and is why this program and other initiatives through the Thriving Regions Fund have such strong support from the State Government.”

group of people with building concept art

At the funding announcement are (from left) Port Augusta Mayor Linley Shine, RFDS SA/NT chief executive Tony Vaughan ASM, SA Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Clare Scriven, Natalie Szabo from RFDS SA/NT, and Member for Stuart Geoff Brock. Photo: RFDS SA/NT.

The government says the new centre will also serve as an education and training base offering placements for medical, nursing and allied health students in partnership with tertiary and vocational education partners, and will host postgraduate students to undertake Research In Practice.

State Member for Stuart Geoff Brock said the facility would be a great asset to not only Port Augusta but also the whole of the Upper Spencer Gulf.

“This facility enables medical officers, plus others, to provide health care across the rural locations,” he said.

“This will give local people the opportunity to work and learn locally, and partnerships with tertiary educators prove that this can be achieved in regional South Australia.”

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The equivalent of 222 full-time-equivalent jobs will be supported during the construction phase of the project, and the RFDS expects it will employ 17 new full-time staff when the centre opens.

RFDS SA/NT chief executive Tony Vaughan said the RFDS was committed to investing in preventive and whole-of-life health care for rural and remote communities.

“The state-of-the-art Integrated Primary Health & Education Centre will not only increase access to health services for the people of Port Augusta and the Far North, but it will also provide valuable training and education opportunities for the future health professionals who will support these communities,” he said.

“We are delighted the State Government has led the way in backing this project with a significant contribution of $1 million.

“We understand that rural placements and first-hand training are crucial factors in influencing young health professionals to consider careers in remote health and we trust this new project will create a long-lasting legacy for the health and wellbeing of Far North residents.”

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