Centennial Coal opens Lithgow mines to Medicine students

Notre Dame students on mine duty: Marty Roebuck, Kathryn Lally, James Kelly, Omar Mograby, and Jessica Quinn

4 August 2015

A doctor’s daily round doesn’t usually involve working underground – but for future doctors from The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Lithgow Rural Clinical School, touring the local coal mines is an essential training technique.

Centennial Coal opens its Angus Place, Clarence and Springvale collieries to the University’s Medicine students to assist them gain an understanding of the working conditions of the mining industry and the special skills required of the doctors who care for its employees.

The highly successful program offers a day’s placement at one of Centennial Coal’s mines to clinical students undertaking specialised training in rural medicine. The program, now in its fifth year, has seen more than 35 Notre Dame students gain first-hand experience of the company’s mining operations this year alone.

“Seeing exactly what the mine environment is like is absolutely fascinating, but in a medical context it allows you to really understand what individuals are undergoing in both their work and social environments,” Marty Roebuck, fourth-year Bachelor of Medicine student, said.

“You see what pressures the workers are under, what injuries they may be exposed to and the inherent risks in the environment which need to be seen to be appreciated. The environment, from the temperature, dust and chemicals; the machinery; and even the terrain, predisposes them to particular problems.”

Marty said the tour would inform him as a practising doctor, adding that he was grateful for the experience and that local communities appreciated doctors being educated outside of the clinical environment.

Mitchell Bath, a fourth-year Medicine student who also toured the Clarence Mine last week, said the tour highlighted potential medical issues and injuries that workers may be subjected to, as well as social and mental issues.

“We saw the stress involved in the job, particularly how hard the actual shift work is physiologically, how it affects families, its association with increased depression and other social and relationship issues,” Mitchell said.

“We learnt about the occupational hazards associated with the use of heavy equipment such as crush issues and saw the advancement in conditions such as ventilation systems and use of protective equipment which have improved coal miners’ working environments.”

Dr Sornalignham Kamalarharan, Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the School of Medicine at Notre Dame, also provided students with information on occupational health and safety, injury management and the Workers Compensation Act and their application to the mining sector during their placement.


Theresa Kyne: Tel (02) 8204 4141; Mob: 0407 408 177; theresa.kyne@nd.edu.au