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Expanding the Northern Territory’s health workforce

Emeritus Professor Ian Wronski AO
Emeritus Professor Ian Wronski AO

To meet the growing demands from the health sector, Charles Darwin University (CDU) is driving the growing need to expand the health workforce in the Northern Territory.

CDU has appointed to a newly created position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor Northern Australia Medical and Health Development, Emeritus Professor Ian Wronski AO, who will develop option for CDU to play a more substantial role in meeting the workforce needs for the Territory in the health and medical sector.

Professor Wronski will look at options for how CDU can evolve more authentic medical training in the Territory and build the capacity of other health related courses, services, and capabilities.

Professor Wronski said as the Territory’s institution it was critical that CDU played an important role in developing the NT health system and economy.

He said doing so would have positive knock on effects throughout the community, ranging from better access and quality of health services to expanded professional career opportunities for Territorians and their children.

“In the Territory, the health system is strangulated by a lack of workforce supply, that’s a big issue and it’s a situation we’ve seen before,” Professor Wronski said.

“The health and human services sector is the fastest growing part of the Australian economy in the last decade and is predicted to be for the next 15 years. If you don’t build health workforce capacity it means that the health system can’t grow in size and quality.”

Professor Wronski’s experience in rural, remote, tropical, public and Indigenous health spans over 40 years in the field and he was previously Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the Division of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University (JCU).

As a part of this role, Professor Wronski developed the first new medical school in Australia for 25 years and dramatically expanded the health offerings and capacity of JCU with tangible impact on health services in in rural Queensland.

JCU also developed a dental school, a veterinary school and about a dozen health professions, with Professor Wronski also very active in building capacity in the research space.

CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman said new courses in health would support the needs of the sector.

“One of the biggest challenges in the Northern Territory is attracting and retaining a health workforce to meet the ever-growing needs and demands of the community,” Professor Bowman said.

“COVID-19 has shown us how vital the health workforce is to the Territory and nation, and as a university we must do more to ensure we are meeting the demands of health organisations across the Northern Territory.

“We want to do a lot more around health, nursing in particular, but also mental health and health research that will help solve future and current health challenges.”

A Diploma of Nursing will be introduced at the Alice Springs campus and online among other courses in health and mental health at CDU’s campuses in Darwin.

Professor Wronski’s appointment will be a one-year appointment in the first instance, with the opportunity to extend.

Source: CDU

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