UNSW's rural medical school receives development approval

The federal government’s commitment of $21m to UNSW’s Biomedical Sciences Centre in Wagga Wagga will ensure more medical students are trained in rural Australia.
Yolande Hutchinson | UNSW Newsroom

Development approval has been granted to UNSW’s Biomedical Sciences Centre in Wagga Wagga, giving the green light for construction of a purpose-built facility that will provide clinical skills training to medical students.

The federal government has made a $21 million funding commitment to the Centre, which forms part of a $95.4 million investment in the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network (MDMSN).

Celebrating development approval for the Biomedical Sciences Centre today, UNSW Professor Tara Mackenzie, Associate Dean, Rural Health said the new facility would train country students in Wagga Wagga for their full degree and support graduating students to take on positions as country GPs and regional medical specialists.

“UNSW is proud to support and further engage the Wagga Wagga community by ensuring we deliver highly trained medical professionals for the future of our regions. If rural students are trained locally there is a greater likelihood they will remain and practice in their local community,” Prof. Mackenzie said.

“The new Biomedical Sciences Centre will provide clinical skills training to medical students. It will allow students to stay close to family and friends in Wagga Wagga and removes the financial barrier of needing to relocate to Sydney to obtain a medical degree.

“In years ahead, we anticipate this will have a significant impact on medical service provision in the regions beyond Wagga Wagga. Supporting trained doctors to provide health care in the regions is extremely important.”

Member for Riverina Michael McCormack said this was the culmination of hard work by all parties to ensure the world-class facility was fit for purpose.

“The very first thing I did when I became Deputy Prime Minister was to establish the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network, which comprises of schools in Dubbo, Orange and Wagga Wagga in New South Wales and Bendigo, Mildura and Shepparton in Victoria,” Mr McCormack said.

“I am delighted this significant project is forging ahead, for it will not only benefit the city of Wagga Wagga but also the surrounding regional and rural areas.”

Wagga Wagga Biomedical Science Building

An artist’s impression of the state-of-the-art purpose-built Wagga Wagga Biomedical Sciences Centre. Image: BNMH Architects.

The Wagga Wagga Biomedical Sciences Centre will be a state-of-the-art purpose-built facility, with opportunities for specialised postgraduate training working closely with the Murrumbidgee Local Health District.

It will feature tutorial rooms and function space, a lecture theatre, dry labs, research facilities, tutorial rooms, scenario rooms, academic staff offices and on-site parking. It is anticipated the centre will be open for students at end of 2023.

UNSW Medicine & Health's Rural Clinical School has campuses across NSW including Albury, Coffs Harbour, Griffith, Port Macquarie and Wagga Wagga. Since the program’s launch in 2000, the school has seen great success training the next generation of rural doctors.

The expansion of Wagga Wagga’s rural medical school forms part of the federal government’s MDMSN to help universities establish medical teaching in the Murray-Darling region over the next 10 years.