Southern Cross University's Health Sciences Building opened this morning at the Coffs Harbour Campus.
Southern Cross University's Health Sciences Building opened this morning at the Coffs Harbour Campus. Trevor Veale

Health boost for Coffs Coast as Southern Cross Uni expands

WEDNESDAY: THE $12 million Health Sciences building at Southern Cross University opened today heralding a new era of sophistication in allied health training and greater opportunities for students.

Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan said the new building would help boost the reputation of the Coffs Harbour education precinct and provide more jobs in the Coffs education sector.

"Our strategy is to play to our economic strengths and realise our opportunities and the new Health Sciences building achieves exactly that for the Coffs Coast," Mr Conaghan said.

"Already Coffs has an impressive education precinct, with Southern Cross University, TAFE, a senior college and National Marine Science Centre all nestled alongside an airport and international stadium.

"We have built on this strength through investing $12 million for the Health Science building and I am excited by the jobs and new opportunities it will provide to domestic and international students."

The Southern Cross University Health Sciences building was conceived in 2016. Construction started in 2018 through funding from the Australian Government's Community Development Grants program, creating 21 full-time equivalent jobs, plus a further 20 ongoing jobs.

Southern Cross University's School of Health and Human Science currently has 625 students enrolled to study and employs 49 staff. Two new full-time staff members have started with the school to deliver the new Occupational Therapy (OT) training in the OT lab in this new building.

First-year OT student, Sophie Cameron, said the OT lab was top-class.

"The OT lab is spacious, so it makes it easier to use hoists and tilt wheelchairs and other tools we use in occupational therapy," she said.

"The kitchen benches in this room literally move up and down to different heights on the wall for ease of use by someone in a wheelchair. We want to make sure people aren't held back by their injury and this facility helps us to see how we can do that."

Vice Chancellor of Southern Cross University Professor Adam Shoemaker said opening the building was a symbol of momentum for his university and for the city and region.

"Investing in vital infrastructure has a threefold effect: it creates a valuable asset for the region, city and community that provides an economic boost," Mr Shoemaker said.

Southern Cross University's Health Sciences Building at its Coffs Harbour campus will open today.
Southern Cross University's Health Sciences Building at its Coffs Harbour campus will open today.

TUESDAY: STUDENTS will be hands-on with new technology that literally changes the shape of workspaces or measures the tiniest movements in a runner's stride.

These are just some of the features of the new Southern Cross University Health Sciences Building in Coffs Harbour to be officially opened on Wednesday.

Made possible through Federal Government funding, the $12 million facility will be home to the latest technology and best possible education of health students.

Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker said the deep thought and investment that had gone into the new building overall was illustrated in the occupational therapy teaching spaces.

Professor Adam Shoemaker vice-chancellor of Southern Cross University
Professor Adam Shoemaker vice-chancellor of Southern Cross University

"For instance, we have benches and appliances that literally move up and down to different heights on the wall, so students can train in the most real-world of ways on how to provide therapy for clients of all abilities," Professor Shoemaker said.

"Our exercise science room is amazing. 

"It has an indoor-outdoor running track with pressure plates that immediately relay data to a big screen for students to see.

"This will be the envy of health science students all over Australia. We are thankful to the Federal Government for its funding and so very proud that the official opening is finally here."

Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan said the Federal Government supported universities to provide the best possible education to young people and support local jobs.

"I'm excited the new Health Sciences Building is open because it will provide top quality training to both domestic and international students right here in Coffs," he said.

Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan.
Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan.

"These skills will lead to prosperous careers for residents, plus it will ensure the health care needs of our ageing and growing population are met."

Professor Shoemaker also praised the building's inclusion of Indigenous artworks and a specially-constructed outdoor garden and yarning circle, all guided and designed by Gumbanggyir Elder, Aunty Bea Ballangarry.

Head of Coffs Harbour Campus Professor Les Christidis said the new building would be a boon to students planning to take up careers in the health care and aged care professions; the fastest growing areas of employment in
the region.

SCU's Coffs Harbour Campus Medical Sciences Building will offer Coffs Harbour students new pathways in allied health training.
SCU's Coffs Harbour Campus Medical Sciences Building will offer Coffs Harbour students new pathways in allied health training.

Degrees for all areas

Southern Cross has about 12,000 students across its campuses at Coffs Harbour, Gold Coast, Lismore and online.

There are more than 1000 students at Coffs Harbour where the Psychology degree is ranked number one in Australia for student experience and the National Marine Science Centre undertakes world-leading research.

The health-related degrees have driven recent growth and these complement the Business, Information
Technology, Law and Education degrees also offered.

Southern Cross is also a leader in its transition programs, such as the free Preparing For Success, which helps
students prepare for a university degree if they feel they aren't quite ready academically.

Click here for details. 



Occupational Therapy students at Coffs Harbour will be the envy of the profession across Australia when they begin classes in the new facility.

The OT Lab has the latest equipment, electronically controlled positioning of appliances and benches,
ceiling hoists, wheelchairs and much more.

OTs work with adults of all ages, children and families, who have physical, social or mental health needs.

They assist with rehabilitation, pain management, driving assessments, support in schools, home modifications and equipment prescriptions amongst other things.






The technology in the exercise science lab can detect minute issues with a professional athlete's
stride or even a gait problem for someone with disability.

The indoor-outdoor track includes highly sensitive pressure plates that relay data straight back to the students who can assess it on a maxi screen.

Other treadmills and bikes are connected to diagnostic equipment that can measure oxygen use and other biological activity and provide critical information for students to adjust training or rehabilitation programs.







Nursing students at Southern Cross University Coffs Harbour are learning in some of the most advanced environments in Australia.

The patient simulation mannequins provide life-like scenarios for students to assess symptoms of a 'patient' in clinic-like situations.

The mannequins are programmable to almost any simulated human function from moaning in pain to gasping for breath to having a gurgling stomach.

Students start using these facilities from the beginning of their degree.






Midwifery is one of the most popular courses at Southern Cross University and has produced some of the profession's most highly regarded midwives.

Students already have excellent facilities at the Hogbin Drive campus and will now also experience the benefits of classes in the new Health Sciences Building.

This includes observation rooms joined to clinical rooms with a two-way mirror.

It allows teachers and students to observe how others are solving problems and completing tasks in the main clinical space.





Want to know where a Southern Cross University degree can take you?

This year, for the first time, a team of Southern Cross graduates is offering you the chance for a unique one-on-one conversation about their study experiences and careers.


You'll have the chance to ask questions and get a real insight into where a university education can take you.

We have graduates with real-world experience, from all different disciplines willing to chat about their success, their challenges and offer you their support.

Book your time with them now.

Click here.