BENDIGO will take its place in the front line of training and retaining doctors in regional area thanks to a new medical training model announced and funded in the federal budget but concocted between the supporting universities.
But this week’s budget was criticised for failing to look after people on the lowest of incomes, who social services say often suffer poor health because of financial stress.
Workers earning more than $37,000 up to $90,000 will get a personal tax cut of up to $530 a year.
Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie said the measure would reach more than 59,500 taxpayers in the Bendigo region.
“This means more money in their pockets to help them and their families with their cost of living,” Senator McKenzie said.
The National Retail Association hopes Australians will spend the extra in shops.
“The more money that ordinary Australians have in their back pocket, the more money they have to spend on items ranging from groceries to personal accessories and clothing,” NRA chief executive Dominique Lamb said.
But Anglicare Victoria and the Australian Council of Social Service have bemoaned that the Newstart allowance was not increased in this week’s budget, the latter calling the omission “shameful”.
Anglicare, which offers services in Bendigo, said the budget offered no extra funding to make housing more affordable.
The Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group, among others, have argued Newstart is insufficient to allow unemployed people to look for work.
There was better news for young students with the budget including $54 million over four years to change the threshold and assessment for parental income.
It means fewer students heading from regional areas to university will be cut off from youth allowance because their parents earn too much money.
The cut off for parent income will now be $160,000, up from $150,000, before students can no longer access youth allowance.
Of course, medical students will now be able to start their studies in Bendigo at La Trobe University before moving into post-graduate training with the University of Melbourne which has agreed to reallocate places from their city campus to Shepparton.
The model was devised about two months ago by a taskforce led by former University of Melbourne dean of medicine, Jim Angus.
Instead of creating a standalone school of medicine, La Trobe University at Bendigo and Albury Wodonga will create a new three-year undergradutate Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Medical), 15 graduates of which will automatically move into the University of
Melbourne Doctor of Medicine (Rural) postgraduate degree in Shepparton.
The qualification will produce rural generalist practitioners who are trained specifically to work in regional areas.
La Trobe had previously lobbied for funding for a stand alone undergraduate medical school.
“We have been pushing for a medical school for a very, very long time but the government was obviously not going to create any more commonwealth supported places for medical training,” La Trobe’s college of science, health and engineering pro vice-chancellor Rob Pike said.
“Now we have a way in which we can be part of the solution of producing more rural doctors.”