Historic Letter of Intent confirms NT Medical Program commitment  

(L-R front) Flinders University VC, Professor Michael Barber, Australian Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, and CDU VC, Professor Barney Glover sign the letter of intent, with (L-R back) the Hon Kon Vatskalis MLA and Member for Solomon Damian Hale

Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Barber and Charles Darwin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Barney Glover today jointly signed an historic letter of intent regarding the Northern Territory Medical Program in the presence of Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon.

The Australian Government announced in May that it would provide $27.8 million in infrastructure funding to support the establishment of a full medical program in the Northern Territory. The program will be run by Flinders University with extensive support from Charles Darwin University.

Buildings to house the Medical Program will be established at Royal Darwin Hospital and at the Charles Darwin University Casuarina campus.

The letter of intent confirms a strong relationship between Flinders and Charles Darwin universities, which will result in Northern Territory students being able to complete their medical degree locally for the first time.

As a nation building partnership, the program aims to improve the health of Northern Territorians, particularly Indigenous Territorians, through training local doctors who are more likely to stay in the Territory after they graduate.

At a lunch event on the CDU campus to mark the signing, the two Vice-Chancellors thanked Minister Roxon and local Member for Solomon Damian Hale for their ongoing support. They also took the opportunity to show the Minister some early sketches of the new facilities as well as the proposed development site on the CDU campus.

Professor Barber welcomed the visit by Minister Roxon and hoped that he would soon welcome her to the new Medical Program building.

“I am pleased to be able to sign this letter of intent along with my CDU counterpart, Professor Glover. The Australian Minister for Health has signalled strong support for our collaborative approach to medical education in the Northern Territory and we aim to deliver on the commitment that we have signalled today,” Professor Barber said.

Professor Glover was enthusiastic about the growing Flinders/CDU partnership and indicated that collaboration would boost the offering of both universities as they worked to find new ways to tackle Indigenous disadvantage.

“There is no doubt that health issues need tackling in the Territory especially in remote areas. Through this collaborative approach, we aim to recruit local students, particularly Indigenous students, into medical education pathways. The long-term result will be local doctors with local knowledge to tackle local problems,” Professor Glover said.