Fifteen-year milestone, new facilities for Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health

24 November 2012

The University of Sydney joins with community, government, and rural health organisations in congratulating Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health (BHUDRH) on 15 years dedication to improving the health and lives of people in far west NSW.

BHUDRH's 15-year milestone was commemorated today with a special unveiling of a new $1.8 million Clinical Simulation Building by federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek.

The Clinical Simulation Building, funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, houses simulation laboratories set up like hospital emergency departments to enable practice trauma situations. It also houses three high-tech manikins programmed to mimic real-life scenarios such as blockages of airways, vomiting and heart restart.

The manikins in the form of a man, woman and baby will make invaluable learning tools for students as well as practice tools for BHUDRH partners such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service (South Eastern Section), whose professionals will share this resource.

Established in 1997, the BHUDRH sits within the University of Sydney's School of Public Health in its faculty of medicine. It is one of 11 federal government-funded departments nationwide charged with increasing recruitment and retention of rural health professionals and improving the quality and appropriateness of health care for rural Australians.

Each year, University of Sydney students from a variety of disciplines participate in work placements in the Broken Hill region alongside our academics, who undertake critical research projects to improve overall community health outcomes.

Since 1997, the department's work in managing undergraduate health student placements in the region has grown from 133 students (339 student weeks) in 1999 to 370 students (2039 student weeks) in 2011.

Innovative service learning models have been developed for clinical training for students in nine medicine, nursing and allied health disciplines, and the University of Sydney has forged significant community partnerships such as our Memorandum Of Understanding with Broken Hill City Council, which consolidates efforts and resources in the community for longer-term outcomes.

Speaking at the 15-year commemoration ceremony, University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence thanked the federal government for the new facilities and support of the BHUDRH. He paid tribute to the BHUDRH's work, which embodies the university's commitment to active engagement in the world.

"The University of Sydney seeks wherever it can to use its people and its skills to help recognise rights, build capability and create opportunity," Dr Spence said.

"The Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health, with its support from the federal government, shows what is possible when you not only base yourself in a community but partner with it. Through partnership we are seeing the resilience of the Broken Hill community as they tackle health and community challenges with a solutions-focused approach."

"We are also seeing the benefits of multidisciplinary collaboration based on the principle that a population's health and social outcomes are not bound solely to medicine but impacted by literacy, housing, architecture, accessibility to social work services and education, amongst other things."

Significant achievements for the BHUDRH since its inception include the establishment of a multi-university long-stay student placement program; collaborative ventures such as the Centre of Research Excellence; and increased contribution to primary health care development through the Broken Hill Centre for Remote Health.

This year the BHUDRH was also awarded $4.7 million federal funding to establish multidisciplinary student-run allied health clinics in public and private primary schools in Broken Hill.

Sydney Medical School Dean Professor Bruce Robinson congratulated the BHUDRH on its achievements in securing improved health outcomes for the Broken Hill community.

"Evidence shows if students come to rural areas and have a positive experience they are more likely to return," Professor Robinson said. "The BHUDRH reveals to students, academics and graduates the real need for their contribution and the impact they can have for many years to come."

Follow University of Sydney Media on Twitter

Media enquiries: Sarah Stock, 9114 0748, 0419 278 715,