The Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, today announced 53 projects across Australia to receive funding in the first round of the government’s new National Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Program (NRRHIP).

Announcing the projects during a visit to the Northern Rivers University Department of Rural Health in Lismore, the Minister said each of the projects aimed to improve access to essential health infrastructure and equipment for rural and remote communities.

The projects signalled the Labor Government’s ongoing determination to ensure strong health services are supported in regional communities, she said.

In Page, the Queens Street Medical Centre in Grafton is to receive $12,400 to refurbish and equip consulting rooms for trainee GPs and to improve and expand existing large waiting areas to allow for additional patient capacity.  

“The National Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Program is a competitive grants program and will provide $46 million over four years for rural and remote communities,” Ms Roxon said.

Member for Page Janelle Saffin said the funding for Grafton’s Queen Street Medical Centre would mean better patient treatment facilities and improved facilities for trainee GPs.

“I recognise we have a shortage of local doctors in Grafton and it is vital that as a government we invest in services like this for GP training in our region,” she said.

“We know from research that if trainee GPs enjoy their training experience, they are more likely to stay and practice in that community.

“The Rudd Government is committed to investing in rural health and addressing workforce shortages.

“In November the Government announced $1.1 billion for training more doctors, nurses and other health professionals – the single biggest investment in the health workforce ever made by an Australian government.

The first round of the NRRHIP generated a significant number of applications, demonstrating a continued need for government support to improve the delivery of health care in rural and remote communities through better access to funding for essential health infrastructure.

Applications received under the second funding round of the National Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Program are currently under assessment. A third funding round will be announced in the coming months.

Further information on the program, including who can apply and funding information, is available from www.health.gov.au/internet/main.publishine.nsf/Content/nrrhip-lp