The Opening of Midithinda Yardilathi Birrjilda Learning Centre in Burketown


James Cook University’s Midithinda Yardilathi Birrjilda Learning Centre was officially opened by the Hon. David Gillespie, Minister for Regional Health and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment in Burketown this week virtually from his Canberra office.  The name of the centre was provided by Gangalidda people, traditional custodians of the land upon which the centre stands.   In welcoming guests present (others joining virtually through zoom) to country, Murrandoo Yanner, Gangalidda leader and Director of the Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, provided the English translation of the centre name ‘Medicine to be Strong and to Feel Good’.  Mr Yanner stated that, “The community is very impressed with the facility. We love the facility, we love the people.The Burke Shire Council Mayor Ernie Camp was another attendee at the event, and said “I recall being called about the possibility of this happening and I welcomed it with open arms because of the great opportunity it gives to this small community.” MCRRH’s Director, Professor Sabina Knight AM, put forward a proposal to the Burke Shire Council for the centre in 2018, as a way of bringing the future health workforce into the Gulf to experience work and life in a rural and remote community.  The Burke Shire Council generously gifted a block of land to James Cook University to bring the proposal to fruition.

Australian Catholic University Nursing student Holly Kimmit, who is currently on a five week placement at the Burketown Hospital is enjoying the amenities offered by the centre.

MCRRH is headquartered out of Mount Isa and consists of a network of learning centres throughout north and central west Queensland including the communities of Cloncurry, Longreach and Weipa.  These learning centres in turn service smaller communities in their regions, providing health professional student placements as well as technological enabled delivery of course content to students and health professionals living and practicing in these areas.  The opening of the Midithinda Yardilathi Birrjilda Learning Centre in Burketown extends this network into the lower Gulf of Carpentaria communities of Doomadgee, Mornington Island and Normanton.  Local residents who aspire to becoming health professionals will have access to these facilities.  The range of health professional student placements facilitated by MCRRH for the community at this centre also exposes residents to a variety of possibilities for fulfilling careers in health.

The Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) Program funded the $1.5 million dollar project. Minster Gillespie congratulated JCU on the establishment of the centre stating that “The Mount Isa Centre of Rural and Remote Health is a fantastic example of how university departments provide education and training facilities in rural and remote locations across Australia. The University has an incredibly strong record against its program targets. Last year, JCU exceeded its targets for rural origin students. It’s also reported 21 Indigenous enrolments, which is more than double the target of 10, which is outstanding,”

University Departments of Rural Health such as MCRRH, are a national network of 16 centres located in rural locations throughout the country that support the growth and development of a multidisciplinary health workforce and engage in rural, remote and Indigenous research.

Associate Professor Remote Indigenous Health & Workforce Catrina Felton-Busch, who is connected to Burketown through her Gangalidda heritage, emceed the event, and joined Gangalidda Elder John Yanner, Professor Sabina Knight AM and Mayor Ernie Camp in the ceremonial unveiling of the centre’s signage to conclude the formalities.

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