CHARLES STURT UNIVERSITY FACULTY OF DENTISTRY
Mr RUSSELL TURNER
(Orange) [12.34 p.m.]: Today I will talk about a great announcement and a great initiative in the electorate of Orange. I congratulate the former Howard-Vaile Federal Government on its recognition of the importance of training dentists in country areas. An article in the Central Western Daily
of 6 December stated:
Approval of an $11.5 million construction project at Charles Sturt University is one of the first steps on the road to addressing chronic dental shortages in rural NSW.
Orange City Council's sustainable development committee approved the development application for CSU's School of Dentistry and Health Sciences earlier this week.
A 24-chair dental clinic offering services to the public is just one part of the school, which will start teaching its first intake of 40 students in February 2009.
Dean of CSU's Health Faculty Professor Mark Burton said Orange would be the centre of the university's dental program.
"The shortage of dentists in the Central West is absolutely acute. That is what the university is responding to, the need to fill the recruitment shortfall across all the health areas. It will not only provide education for our students, but also dental services in the communities around the university," he said.
Students will be able to practice under supervision in the clinic in their third year.
Before that, they will be able to hone their skills in a simulation clinic.
The entire project, taking into account office space, laboratories, teaching areas and the dental clinic, is expected to cost about $30 million.
Dentistry will be taught over a five-year period at CSU, with 40 students in each year.
Clinical rotation between Orange, Bathurst, Wagga Wagga, Dubbo and Albury will occur for students in years three to five.
"We would like to see our students being able to experience different sorts of settings across those five clinics "
CSU's previous experience with allied health graduates from degrees including pharmacy and physiotherapy has shown that 70 to 80 per cent of graduates who come from rural areas stay to practice their profession in those areas when they finish.
Professor Burton said the university had already fielded about 400 enquiries from people interested in the course.
"We're really keen on seeing the potential for us to fill a gap in provision of dental services," he said.
I highlight the importance of training dentists in rural areas. As reported in the paper, if we can train dentists in rural areas there is a good chance of them staying in those areas. Statistics show that about 80 per cent of doctors trained in regional areas are retained if they come from a regional area, and up to 40 per cent of doctors from capital cities who are trained in a regional area are retained. I congratulate the Orange campus of Charles Sturt University on this initiative. The faculty of pharmacy at Charles Sturt University has been successful. Members should remember that the Orange campus of Charles Sturt University was formerly Orange Agricultural College, and it still provides important agriculture courses, including the faculty of horse management and other primary industries.
I hope that the announcement will put to bed the rumours that once Charles Sturt University took over the old Orange campus of the University of Sydney it intended to close it down. The announcement, and the success of the faculty of pharmacy, are an indication that the Orange campus is not about to be closed. The Orange campus is a strong part of the Orange economy and an important part of the strong education system in Orange, together with a number of public facilities, high schools and primary schools, as well as the important Kinross Wallaroy school, which has more than 1,000 students. Education in Orange is vital to ensure that people in regional areas are educated and stay in those areas. It is also important to ensure that positions are available for those who wish to stay in a regional area. This initiative will provide some wonderful opportunities for not only students but also teachers. That will also contribute to the Orange economy.
The university's dental clinic will be an important facility for those who normally access the public dentist at Orange Base Hospital. One common complaint I receive is about the waiting list to see the public dentist at Orange Base Hospital. This clinic will provide a wonderful facility for people wishing to access public dentists. Although the dental patients may be guineapigs, I am sure they will receive excellent service. I look forward to the first intake of students in February 2009 at the new faculty of dentistry at the Orange campus of Charles Sturt University.
Ms VIRGINIA JUDGE
(Strathfield—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.39 p.m.]: I thank the hardworking member for Orange for bringing these important matters to the attention of members. I thank him for informing us about the dental services that will be available.