Ground broken for new $12m health facility
THE ground has been broken for Southern Cross University's $12m Allied Health building in what has been dubbed a 'transformational' investment in the region.
It's been a long wait for the facility which will accommodate a range of health degrees, and which is designed to attract more students to help meet the growing demand for allied health professionals in the region.
The two-storey building will be fitted with a range of high-tech labs and will provide multi-purpose teaching and research spaces.
A number of new health degrees will be made available from 2019 including Occupational Therapy, a joint degree in Exercise Science and Psychology, and Indigenous Health and Mental Health on top of existing degrees in Nursing, Midwifery and more.
Students are expected to begin classes in the new building from Session 2 of next year.
Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker, and local Indigenous Elders Aunty Beatrice and Uncle Kevin Ballangarry shared the honour of turning the first sod with SCU Chancellor Nick Burton Taylor and Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker on Thursday.
"From the middle of next year hundreds of students will walk in the doors with futures in their hearts and SCU logos on their chests, studying Psychology, Exercise Science, Occupational Therapy and very importantly Indigenous Health. We're hoping many will be Indigenous themselves" Prof Shoemaker said.
"That's the whole aim of this exercise in the very broader sense, and as part of the future of this country Coffs is leading the way, not following."
Federal MP Luke Hartsuyker said the investment will see an influx of local and interstate students to help ease the shortage of graduates working in the region.
"It's been a long time coming. The Coffs campus has really needed this," he said.
"The evidence is in that students trained in regional areas are more likely to practice there. This building will provide a significant pipeline of new allied health professionals into the future."
The university has received Federal funding of $12m to construct the facility, and a further $12.9m over four years for student places.
Dr Theresa Beswick, Coffs Clinical Network Coordinator and General Manager of the Coffs Harbour Health Campus, said the construction of the facility was 'great timing' as the health campus undergoes its own major developments.
She said it would help meet the demand for Occupational Therapists in the area.
"We're going through major development ourselves, so as we finish that it's great to know there will be those students graduating into the workforce," she said.
"There's always demand for allied health clinicians, in particular Occupational Therapists so to see they'll be training locally gives us great optimism for the future."
The construction, beginning in late October, will support 21 jobs and create 20 ongoing jobs.
The first of its kind in Coffs, the building will also see integrated passive solar shading devices installed to minimise energy consumption.