The Government’s 65% cut to the allied health stream of the Nursing and Allied Health Scholarship and Support Scheme (NAHSSS) is a massive blow to the future of the workforce in rural Australia and shows that health in our regions simply isn’t a priority for the Turnbull Government.
To make matters worse, the Government has only funded the 2017 academic year, leaving students with uncertainty in 2018.
Rural and remote Australians have poorer health outcomes than urban Australians. On a per capita basis Medicare Benefits Schedule spending is lower and there are fewer health professionals in remote and rural areas.
The NAHSSS which commenced in 2010, has been an effective program in increasing the health workforce in rural and remote communities with over 4,500 scholarships awarded.
The Health Workforce Scholarship Program (HWSP), which the Government announced was replacing the NAHSSS has now been delayed twice. It was originally due to commence on 1 July 2016 and then in the 2016 Budget, the Government said it would commence in time for the 2017 academic year. Now it has been delayed further.
“The Government should ensure that students who are considering applying for the scholarships have certainty that they will receive ongoing support for their studies beyond 2017 and be able to complete their course.”
“This is a Government that fails to understand the health issues facing rural and remote Australians, having cut $72.5 million from health workforce scholarships and having abolished Health Workforce Australia,” Mr Zappia said
THURSDAY, 22 DECEMBER 2016