Greater Whitsunday Council of Mayors supports JCU bid for medical expansion

Published: 30 May 2022

Greater Whitsunday councils have thrown their combined weight behind a James Cook University bid to expand their medical school program outside of Townsville.

Mackay, Isaac, and Whitsunday regional councils have all separately carried resolutions supporting James Cook University’s lobbying of the Federal Government.

Now, the Greater Whitsunday Council of Mayors, of which the three councils are members, has released a united position on the proposal.

The university is seeking an increased allocation of 80 Commonwealth Supported Places for the JCU Medical School to be shared between the Mackay and Cairns campuses.

Greater Whitsunday Council of Mayors acting chair, Isaac Mayor Ann Baker, said it was timely for the three councils to show they were united in their support for this call.

“A Federal election has just been held and we want to put it to the newly elected government that the three councils in our region believe this plan is full of merit,’’ Cr Baker said.

“The allocation of these extra Commonwealth Supported Places would enable end-to-end medical training from years one to six in the region – not just in Townsville,’’ she said.

Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said such an increase would also have the added benefit of providing opportunities for hospital-embedded research in the region.

“They would also assist with the expansion of a range of health professional courses currently available to students here,’’ he said.

“These extra places, if provided in Mackay, would provide great benefits to the entire Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday region.”

Acting Whitsunday Mayor Mike Brunker said the JCU bid made perfect sense.

“It would also build a pipeline of domestic medical graduates willing to pursue their careers in regional and rural areas,’’ he said.

“With medical skills shortages an ongoing battle for many rural and regional areas, these graduates would make a huge difference in the future.”