The University of Newcastle marked the beginning of construction of the $16m Tamworth Education Centre with a turning of the first sod ceremony today.
The project, near the Tamworth Hospital, will construct a two-storey Education Centre and accommodation facility for more than 50 students.
Professor Nicky Hudson from the University of Newcastle’s Department of Rural Health said the ceremony was an opportunity to celebrate an important milestone in bringing this facility to Tamworth.
“This is a wonderful resource offering contemporary learning facilities and accommodation to the range of students who come to Tamworth for part of their education in the health profession. In turn, these students will be able to assist the Tamworth community,” said Professor Hudson.
“Several hundred students from the University currently undertake a rural clinical placement in Tamworth and this facility will provide an enhanced experience for them.”
The formal commencement of works was celebrated with a sod-turning event officiated by:
• University of Newcastle’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Mike Calford;
• University of Newcastle’s acting Chancellor, the Hon. John Price AM;
• Member for New England, Mr Tony Windsor MP; and
• Chairman and Managing Director of the building contractor, AW Edwards Pty Ltd, Mr Bruce Edwards.
The Centre will include clinical teaching and simulation laboratories as well as tutorial and study facilities. The entire facility will be technology-enabled with high-speed broadband communications supporting high definition video-conferencing and tele-health capability, enabling students and University staff to connect with other campuses of the University and the world.
The project has been fully funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing and Health Workforce Australia with grants totalling more than $16.6m. Over the 12 month construction period, it will provide significant employment and economic benefit for local sub-contractors and suppliers.
The project will involve not just construction of the new facilities at Johnston Street, but also re-purposing the existing University Department of Rural Health building in the grounds of the hospital, to support students and hospital staff training in a clinical setting.
“An additional benefit for the people of Tamworth is that students who experience a quality clinical placement in a rural or regional setting are more likely to consider returning to work outside of a capital city, upon graduation,” Professor Hudson said
The project is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2014.
Media event details:
Date: 10:30am Monday 20 May 2013
Location: 140 Johnston St, Tamworth (Tamworth Hospital grounds)
For interviews with the University of Newcastle Director of the Department of Rural Health contact Professor Nicky Hudson on 02 6767 8457/ 0400 493 066 or University of Newcastle Director of Regional Campuses, Mr Trevor Gerdsen on 02 4348 4007/ 0418 612 432.