A petition calling on the Federal Government to re-allocate 180 medical student positions to regional areas is on its way to achieving its goal.
La Trobe University students were at Shepparton Marketplace on Saturday urging community members to sign the petition supporting the Murray-Darling Medical School proposal.
The petition, which is addressed to treasurer Scott Morrison, has about 1100 signatures of its 1500 goal.
If the funding is re-allocated, the school, a joint collaboration between La Trobe University and Charles Sturt University, will have three major campuses in Wagga Wagga, Bendigo and Orange, as well as five smaller and intensive campuses throughout northern Victoria.
La Trobe ambassador and Bundoora campus student Laura Cripps said only about 10 per cent of medical students practiced in country areas.
‘‘If we give people the opportunity to study regionally in medicine they might come back to the country to practice,’’ she said.
‘‘Most people we’ve talked to about the petition are quite enthusiastic about the idea, especially older people as they’re more aware of the shortage of doctors.’’
For Shepparton campus student and La Trobe ambassador Fazela Abbasi, moving away from her home town to study was not an option.
‘‘I couldn’t move. I prefer to study and work here (in Shepparton), so this is a good opportunity for other people like me,’’ she said.
La Trobe ambassador and Bendigo campus student Troy Gowty said it was evident there was little support for medical students in regional Victoria.
‘‘The school will be fantastic for those regional positions to have that option and keep in the country areas,’’ he said.
About 85 per cent at the Murray-Darling Basin School’s 180 positions will be exclusively available to regional students.