Ballarat’s health research institutions will come together to form the Ballarat Innovation and Research Collaboration in Health (BIRCH) centre after the project received initial funding from the state government.
Minister for regional development Jaala Pulford will today visit St John of God Hospital to announce $300,300 toward the project, which will bring together the city’s brightest medical minds.
Ballarat Innovation and Research Collaboration in Health aims to have 300 researchers within 10 years, and more than 1000 working and living in the region within 20 years.
Ms Pulford said the BIRCH centre would help attract medical practitioners to the area and increase the chance that science, medical, allied health and nursing graduates would settle in Ballarat with opportunities in research.
BIRCH will be a collaboration between St John of God Ballarat Hospital, Ballarat Health Services, Federation University, Australian Catholic University, Deakin University, Notre Dame University and University of Melbourne.
The centre will also provide opportunities for university students to remain in Ballarat during mandatory research projects.
The health institutions, universities and City of Ballarat have been lobbying heavily for state government funding for the BIRCH initiative, but the initial $300,300 is the first step in an estimated $19 million project.
The research facility will be located within Ballarat’s Health and Knowledge Precinct, and will use facilities provided by St John Of God and Ballarat Health Services, as well as other project partners.
“By funding this great project, we’re taking full advantage of Victoria’s world-leading health research capabilities to create jobs, strengthen Ballarat’s economy and pave the way for future growth,” Ms Pulford said.
BIRCH will have two to four academics researching across aged care, acute care, integrated care and social determinants of health.
When the project was first mooted earlier this year, ACU Ballarat dean of campus Bridget Aitchison said she had high hopes for the collaboration and the difference it could make in regional health care.
“The BIRCH initiative is a really important one for Western Victoria, there are a lot of health needs in rural and regional areas that aren’t necessarily addressed by larger, urban research institutes,” she said.
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