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Federal Budget, General News

FEDERAL BUDGET – Tuesday, May 14 – experts available for interviews

La Trobe University 4 mins read

 La Trobe experts are available to provide commentary on the budget in areas of health, rural health, mental health, education, defence and cost-of-living.

Professor Jane Mills
Pro Vice-Chancellor Health Innovation and Dean, La Trobe Rural Health School
Contact: 0409 762 200

Expertise: Clinical nursing, rural and regional health, rural workforce, strengthening health systems.

Professor Mills can discuss the following topics:

  • Continued support for the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Fund for rural healthcare students.
  • New funding for Rural Dental Education to enact the recommendations of the KB consulting report.

The following can be attributed to Professor Jane Mills: 

“We know the healthcare gap between city and country is real, so continued Federal Government support for the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Fund is vital. Governments need to keep encouraging students to train in regional areas, as we know this boosts their chances of going into rural practice when they graduate.”


“The budget should include a boost to oral health, as recommended by the KBC report which went to the Government in late 2022. Without improving access to dental practitioners, the health and wellbeing of rural Australians will suffer.”


Dr Virginia Dickson-Swift 

Principal Research Fellow – Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research 

Contact: 0409 762 200


Dr Dickson-Swift is a Senior Research Fellow in the Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research (VVMCRHR) based at the La Trobe Rural Health School. Dr Dickson-Swift currently leads a stream of research in the VVMCRHR focused on improving oral health outcomes for rural people.   Dr Dickson-Swift sits on both the Victorian and National Oral Health Alliances.

The following can be attributed to Dr Virginia Dickson-Swift:

“Oral health is part of general health but is often neglected. There are many people in our rural communities who face inequity in oral health, such as access to services but also to infrastructure (like water fluoridation) that is vital to promoting oral health.”


“Rural people face inequity in many forms and a lot of oral disease can be prevented but our rights to good oral health are compromised due to where we live. In some of our rural towns we see dental decay in children’s teeth (which is preventable) at much higher rates than in cities.” 


Professor Bec Strating
Director of La Trobe Asia and Professor of International Relations at La Trobe

Contact: 0400 287 758

Professor Bec Strating has extensive experience in the fields of international diplomacy and security. Her research focuses primarily on Asian regional security, maritime disputes, and Australian foreign and defence policy.

Dr Strating is the author of ‘Girt by Sea: reimagining Australia’s Security’ with Professor Joanne Wallis and co-editor of 'Blue Security: Maritime Strategies in the Indo-Pacific.

Professor Strating can discuss the following topics:

  • Australian defence
  • Asian security


The following can be attributed to Professor Bec Strating:

“Australia’s defence spending reflects the reality that it is a middle-sized country with budget and resource constraints that requires prioritising spending, resources, and efforts. The latest 2024 National Defence Strategy also pointedly described Australia as a ‘middle power’. Faced with an increasingly unpredictable regional security environment, the Labor government has opted to prioritise its spending on defence in terms of geography, focusing its efforts closer to home in Asia and the Pacific and protecting crucial sea lines of communication and trade, at the expense of involvement in other areas of conflict and tension such as Ukraine or Red Sea.

“I will be looking to see what funding is allocated to other arms of Australian statecraft, such as DFAT and international development, as well as in areas such as climate change adaptation and mitigation.”

Dr Buly Cardak
Associate Professor, Economics at La Trobe
Contact: 0413 244 108

Dr Cardak researches the economics of education and household attitudes to risk. He studies the impact of socioeconomic disadvantage on educational attainment, how household financial risk taking is impacted by financial crises. Dr Cardak can discuss the following topics:

  • Higher education policy
  • Household finance and risk taking
  • Microeconomic policy

The following can be attributed to Dr Cardak:

“I think this year’s federal budget will hold some minor changes to the arrangements for HECS-HELP to assist students with indexation. I think there will be bigger changes in higher education announced later in the year.

“I also think the government and treasurer will be constrained in what can be done to assist households more broadly as any major spending may pose challenges for inflation. There may be relief targeted to the most disadvantaged and possibly further relief in a budget review later in 2024.


Dr Neelofar Rehmen
Associate Professor, Psychology, Counselling and Therapy
Contact: 0433 915 428

Dr Neelofar Rehman is a registered psychologist with extensive clinical experience in working with people with complex histories of severe trauma (early sexual abuse, emotional neglect, and prolonged exposure to disempowering environment), addiction, workplace bullying and parenting.

Dr Rehmen can discuss the following topics:

  • Increased psychological services in schools through having full time rather than shared positions.
  • Greater funding for mental health awareness with a special focus on accessing services.
  • Allocation for funding into lived experience lead research projects to study new interventions which they think work the best for them.

The following can be attributed to Dr Neelofar Rehmen:

“The need for mental health services is being recognised and is growing. Early intervention is critical, so we need to invest in early identification and intervention. When school environments have inadequate services, this impacts child and adolescent mental health services in the form of a larger number of referrals and not having enough resources.”


Contact details:

Elaine Cooney
0487 448 734

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