Biggest cash injection for Western Sydney to fund world-class medical research
Property magnate Lang Walker is gifting AU$26 million to Western Sydney University (WSU) to deliver a suite of world-class educational and medical research facilities for the rapidly-growing Macarthur region in Sydney’s southwest.
The cash injection, the biggest in the institution’s history, will go towards realising the ambitious vision for the Macarthur Medical Research Centre, described as a dynamic hub for medical education and research.
The centre is expected to transform the Campbelltown Hospital into an internationally-engaged research precinct, fostering greater scientific, clinical and industry collaborations.
The contribution, delivered via a partnership between WSU and Walker Group, will also see the firm develop the university’s new vertical campus in the Bankstown CBD. Set to open in 2022, the campus will be a state-of-the-art teaching and learning powerhouse accommodating up to 12,000 students.
The partnership also includes the establishment of a Lang Walker Professorial Chair in Built Environment to advance innovation and sustainability in the property, design and delivery spaces.
The Walker family has had a long history of investing in medical research, with past endeavours including the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney’s inner city.
Walker is also an advocate and supporter of the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation in Brisbane, the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme, and the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation.
The billionaire businessman was recognised for his philanthropic contributions with an Order of Australia award in 2015.
This latest contribution, he said this week, is to expand on these efforts, specifically to lift the region’s medical research capabilities.
“We’ve sat on a number of forums out there in relation to Peter Shergold [chancellor, WSU] and Barney Glover [vice-chancellor]. We became involved in an A-league soccer team, the Macarthur Bulls and we approached the university to do a centre of excellence at Campbelltown,” he said in Australian Financial Review.
“And we’re sponsoring the Charles Perkins Football Academy. So we thought a medical research centre would be essential in the region.
“We’ve got a lot of land in the Macarthur region. We want to give back to the universities, the medical side of things and sport.”
The Walker Group will spend AU$20 million on the medical research centre, which now has an AU$50 million price tag.
Other partners in the centre include the South Western Sydney Local Health District, the Ingham Institute, and UNSW Sydney.
The facility will drive medical research into some of the region’s most pressing health issues from diabetes to mental health, Indigenous health, paediatrics and cancer. Research findings will be translated into targeted improvements in patient care, treatments and most importantly, preventative health.
“The Lang Walker Macarthur Medical Research Centre brings together the expertise and commitment of an unprecedented array of partners committed to the health of the southwest, now and over the coming decades,” said Western Sydney University Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Barney Glover AO.
The centre and the pending Bankstown campus for WSU are in addition to second stage developments for the university in its Ngara Ngura campus in the Liverpool CBD. Details of the new facility will be announced in the new year.
These developments come amid a population boom in Southwestern Sydney. By 2036, the region’s population is expected to hit 1.5 million people, with every one in three new New South Wales residents calling it home.
“This rapidly growing population will present unique and sometimes complex health challenges. We need to act now if we are to meet those challenges,” Professor Glover said.
“These initiatives focus on the educational, health and wellbeing needs of south-western Sydney. Importantly, they do so, at scale, across an area we’ve designated the ‘Priority Triangle’; specifically, the region broadly encompassing the communities of Campbelltown, Bankstown and Liverpool.”