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One-of-a-kind University placement to boost regional health care

Woman in Chinchilla.
University of Southern Queensland Master of Clinical Psychology student Rachael Brice in Chinchilla

In a boost for rural and remote Queensland, the ‘Melon Capital’ of Australia has welcomed their first provisional psychologist to town thanks to an educational partnership.

University of Southern Queensland Master of Clinical Psychology student Rachael Brice has recently commenced the inaugural placement in Chinchilla at Southern Queensland Rural Health’s new Aged Care Education and Training Centre based at Southern Cross Care Queensland’s Illoura Village.

Established last year, the facility is a partnership between Southern Queensland Rural Health and Southern Cross Care Queensland and gives nursing and allied health students an opportunity to work together at Illoura Village to enhance their rural education.

“It’s been an amazing experience to be the first student psychologist in Chinchilla,” Ms Brice said.

“The highlight so far has been enhancing the general understanding of what a psychologist can do and the role they can play – especially in small communities like this one,” she said.

“I’ve loved being able to spread my wings and collaborate with other students and industry professionals to bring medicine and allied health together to help the residents at Illoura Village.”

Southern Queensland Rural Health Director Associate Professor Geoff Argus said the partnership would see an increase in students coming to the town and grow the local health and aged care workforce.

“This initiative will make a difference for not only aged care residents, but also local health professionals and students on placement,” Associate Professor Argus said.

“A major refurbishment of Illoura Village is in development and will soon boast more than 80 residents and an education centre which will host more nursing and allied health students interested in aged care and healthy ageing,” he said.

“We’re very excited about providing quality contemporary placements that will hopefully attract students to a career in rural and remote Queensland upon graduation.”

With serving and supporting rural and remote Queensland at the heart of Southern Cross Care Queensland, Chief Executive Officer Jason Eldering is thrilled about the prospect of the additional education and training opportunities helping the wider region.

“The building works at Illoura Village will essentially transform the campus by providing more space for residents, students and existing health services,” Mr Eldering said.

“The co-location of the facilities will offer Chinchilla and surrounding regions an integrated, innovative and sustainable model for the future which creates jobs and keeps people connected,” he said.

“We’re motivated to grow communities where best lives are lived, and this will help us on our way to doing just that.”

As for Rachael’s future aspirations, her excitement about permanently working rurally is getting stronger by the week.

“Everyone has welcomed me with open arms and made this feel like my home away from home – it didn’t take any time at all before residents were remembering my name, waving to me and looking forward to seeing me again,” Ms Brice said.

“The more time I spend here, the more I love it – working within this community has really opened my eyes up to the many possibilities of working as a psychologist,” she said.

“My experience in Chinchilla has been wonderful and shown me the huge impact that psychology can play in a rural setting – a setting that I plan to continue working well into my future career.”