Australia will become a world leader in specialised children's surgery with the launch of a new Melbourne research program, federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek says.
The Royal Children's Hospital will lead the craniofacial surgery research program created by the Jigsaw Foundation, influencing plastic surgery practice and ensuring young patients receive the highest level of care.
"This is not just an Australian first, it is an international first," Ms Plibersek told reporters on Wednesday.
One of the hospital's most famous facial surgery patients, formerly conjoined twin Trishna, returned on Wednesday for the announcement.
Trishna, who was separated from her sister Krishna during a delicate 32-hour surgery in 2009, is still doing well.
Her co-guardian Atom Rahman welcomed the new appointment.
"I'm very, very delighted," he said.
"That will only mean that people like Trishna and (her twin) Krishna may have hope, which they have never had in the past."
The new program will be led by research chair Tony Pennington, a University of Melbourne professor and Royal Children's Hospital plastic surgeon.
Ms Plibersek said it was a landmark appointment.
"There is no other chair of paediatric craniofacial surgery."
Both state and federal governments are funding the research program.