Health duel looms as funds secured for UTAS regional health research

Federal opposition Leader Bill Shorten has called for a leaders’ debate on health on the same day Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced funding for a new regional health research centre in Burnie.

Speaking at the University of Tasmania’s Rural Clinical School, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the $2.4 million Centre for Excellence in Regional and Rural Health would be embedded in the community.

“This Centre for Excellence is focused on preventive work, on mental health and on dementia and it’s doing it at each of the four stages of life: early childhood, youth, middle-aged and older aged.”

The funding from the Medical Research Future Fund will flow to the university from July 1.

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University of Tasmania Vice-Chancellor Professor Rufus Black welcomed the funding.

“This really is an extraordinary act of confidence in the work that’s being done and our ability to make a substantial impact on the community.

“In lots of ways it’s the chance to bring the very best of global science to the communities where it can make the greatest difference.”

Professor Black said the university had the physical capacity for the new research which would involve more jobs in Burnie.

“It will involve more researchers being here so more jobs in this part of Tasmania.”

He said the university’s research was focusing on addressing obesity from before birth, improving physical activity levels, improving knowledge about dementia and tackling health risk-factors in the community.

“[It is] an opportunity to prove up and test models that will be valuable around the country in communities that are also trying to achieve these outcomes.”

Mr Turnbull talked up the federal government’s “record funding going into health.”

“Whoever is saying we are cutting funding to health is lying,” he said.

Mr Shorten said health was the number one concern for the Braddon community.

“I’ll debate my priorities for Braddon any day – Turnbull should front up and do the same. Braddon deserves to hear directly why Turnbull thinks they don’t deserve more health funding.”

This story Health duel looms as funds flow for UTAS health research first appeared on The Advocate.