Archive for November, 2009

International declaration promotes leadership in health care

November 30th, 2009

normal_une-sign-0001A declaration drafted at an international conference in Phitsanulok, Thailand, organised by the University of New England and Thailand’s Naresuan University, emphasises the importance of high-quality education and training for health service managers.

The “Phitsanulok Declaration” says that the conference – the 1st International Conference on Health Service Delivery Management – was “the first opportunity in the South-East Asia and Asia Pacific regions to emphasise the importance of leadership and health management as essential precursors to health systems working to achieve high-quality health care for all”.

“The 450 delegates from 17 countries and 14 health and education organisations recognise the importance of a revitalised primary health care system – particularly in rural areas and at the local district level,” it continues. “This requires well trained professional health managers to be effective.”

The declaration is being circulated to all the conference delegates with a request that they translate it into their own languages and distribute it as widely as possible. “The delegates to this conference seek implementation of this declaration and pledge to continue to work together and expand the collaboration on which this declaration was founded,” it says.

Dr David Briggs, a Senior Lecturer in UNE’s School of Health who was one of the conveners of the Phitsanulok conference, held in October, explained that the declaration had been drafted through a process of extensive discussion during and after the conference. It is available in its final form at:

“The University of New England is committed to raising issues of relevance to rural communities at a global level,” said UNE’s Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Webb. “This landmark declaration signals the importance of training health managers to meet the challenges of providing effective leadership, and for planning integrated services for populations who require health care in rural communities, where health needs are often underserviced.”

Dr Briggs is one of several UNE staff members who are acting as advisers to Naresuan University’s Centre of Expertise on Leadership in Health Management. “The South-East Asia Regional Office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) was one of the major partners in the Phitsanulok conference,” he said, “and a significant outcome of the conference is that the Naresuan University Centre is now undergoing designation as a WHO Collaborating Centre of Expertise.”

Professor Victor Minichiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions, is another of UNE’s advisers to the Naresuan University Centre, and was an invited speaker at the symposium that discussed the declaration.  “The declaration is a significant step towards meeting the growing expectations of the public with regard to receiving high-quality and effective health care,” Professor Minichiello said.

“A widely-reported issue in the media is the crisis in the health care system at a global level, and the challenges that the system faces,” he continued. ”Central to this debate is the capacity of health service managers to deal with the economic context of delivering health care, and to introduce reforms in the delivery of primary health care that are innovative and forward thinking. The declaration recognises the importance of training – and of ensuring appropriate levels of qualifications – for those who work in health service management.”

Education researchers aim at international equity and harmony

November 26th, 2009


An international conference at the University of New England this week is examining ways of making education more equitable – locally, nationally, and globally.

The opening keynote address at the 37th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Comparative and International Education Society (ANZCIES) was given by Professor Colin Power, who was Deputy Director-General of UNESCO from 1989 to 2000. Professor Power was instrumental in establishing the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, and he reported to the conference on progress towards those goals.

The 80 delegates to the conference, which ran from Wednesday 25 to Friday 27 November, included invited guests from Denmark, Tonga, Fiji, China and New Zealand, and postgraduate students from more than 15 countries.

Professor Power observed that gaps in income levels and educational opportunities were widening both between and within countries – including Australia. “No national government is interested in looking at global issues, so we need international organisations – such as ANZCIES – to do so,” said the convener of the conference (and outgoing President of ANZCIES), UNE Senior Lecturer Dr Brian Denman.

The theme for ANZCIES 2009 is “Entering the Age of an Educational Renaissance: unity of purpose or further discord?” It is addressing questions such as: Is education perceived as a tool for peace? Can we use education to expand our imagination to explore new ways of thinking for collective action? What can we do to view education as a whole – from early-childhood, primary and secondary to tertiary education and life-long learning? How can the world foster greater cooperation to offset fear of collapse, apathy, and complacency? Dr Denman said that the five keynote presentations addressed such questions from global, regional, national and local perspectives.

Professor Phillip Jones from the University of Sydney gave a keynote address on “Education and the construction of world order” and, in their address, Brigadier Iain Spence and Colonel Bill Monfries (Headquarters Forces Command, Australian Army) looked at the changing role of the Army in the 21st century, when soldiers have to combine full-scale military operations with peacekeeping and social reconstruction activities.

Keynote talks were presented by Professor Michael Williams from the University of Queensland, who discussed the state of Aboriginal education, and Dr Christine Fox, Secretary-General of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies, who discussed the role of ANZCIES in making an impact on education policy and practice within the Asia-Pacific region.

ANZCIES is one of 40 comparative education societies throughout the world.

Australian Centre for Agriculture & Law

November 13th, 2009

The Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law (AgLaw) has been involved with the CRC for Irrigation Futures since 2006.  The ‘System Harmonisation’ program aimed to identify opportunities for improved management of surface and groundwater resources using four case studies in Australia: Macintyre Brook, Queensland, South Creek NSW; Colleambally NSW and Limestone Coast SA. The AgLaw Centre’s research focused around the institutional and policy frameworks for sustainable water management in the rural Macintyre Brook catchment of South Western Queensland and the peri-urban South Creek catchment of Western Sydney.

Our research with irrigators in Macintyre Brook from 2006 to 2009 found considerable red tape and high transaction costs associated with both the regulatory structure and the associated administrative systems. This led to our involvement in the early stage development of a national framework for sustainable agriculture and a sustainability initiative for the Macintyre Brook catchment. The AgLaw Centre assisted the irrigators secure funding through ‘Caring for Our Country’ to implement the initiative during 2009.

Our work in Western Sydney found that water management decisions in such a contested peri-urban region reflected the political economy, and only peripherally aspects of natural resources science or even economic optimisation. An ecosystem services framework was proposed to assist identify, categorise and value ecosystem services in Western Sydney. This incorporating Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and designed to integrate the water cycle, markets and productivity and the social/cultural/institutional/policy themes of System Harmonisation.  It is hoped that this concept will be developed further in this area.
We also developed an innovative policy risk process. This provides a methodology (workbook, theoretical background and case studies) to assess the risk of a policy’s likelihood of political or instrumental failure, or unintended social, economic and/or environmental impacts. The AgLaw Centre recently conducted a policy risk workshop in Western Sydney with local and NSW Government stakeholders exploring the risks of the policy option of stormwater harvesting and aquifer storage in Western Sydney.
During the same period the Centre also conducted scoping work for the Queensland government on mechanisms for social impact evaluation tied to environmental impact assessment for the proposed Traveston Dam.
As the CRC for Irrigation Futures is to finish in June 2010, the AgLaw Centre is currently undertaking a review of the System Harmonisation program in Western Sydney to learn what was done well and how such an approach at trans-disciplinary research could be improved. We anticipate our work with CRC for Irrigation Futures will be completed by March 2010.

For further information contact Professor Paul Martin or Dr Jacqueline Williams and the AgLaw Centre.

UNE Academic passes 300 mark

November 13th, 2009

normal_brian-dollery-batting0150Professor Brian Dollery of the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy, and Director of the UNE Centre for Local Government, has passed the 300 mark in the number of papers he has published in refereed scholarly journals.
Professor Dollery said: ‘With 305 refereed papers not out under my belt, I have passed Don Bradman’s second highest score of 304 and the chase is now on to overtake his highest score of 334’.
‘Provided the wicket plays well and I can stay fast, fierce and focused, after that I will be aiming for Brian Lara’s 400’, Brian said.
‘In family terms, I passed England cricketer Tom Dollery’s highest test score of 37 way back in 1992 and Queenslander Keith Dollery’s highest Shield innings of 41 in 1993’, Brian observed.
‘Over the years, I have been very lucky to have had a succession of excellent batting partners, especially Joe ‘Thrasher’ Wallis, Andrew ‘Blocker’ Worthington and Lin ‘Flogger’ Crase’, he said.
On a personal level, Professor Dollery ascribed his research productivity to a carefully targeted regime of detoxification and rehabilitation, combined with early nights.
‘Big Dog’s injunction to go to bed at 7.00pm has been a wonderful boon to me’, Brian said.

International Health Conference

November 13th, 2009

conf-ceremony-2The University of New England stands to benefit from the development of strategic relationships in the interna-tional arena, following the unqualified success of its International Health Conference held in Thailand this week. The International Conference on Health Service Delivery Management is a joint effort between UNE and Thailand’s Naresuan University, and has attracted more than 450 delegates from across three continents. The Vice-Chancellor and CEO of UNE, Professor Alan Pettigrew, in Thailand, said the conference had pulled together knowledge from the fields of health, medicine and education to address global issues in health service delivery. He said the conference had attracted considerable international interest from health practitioners, health providers, and educators from 16 countries including Australia, Sudan, Nepal, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Laos and Bhutan. “All of the international experts present are committed to improving health care and to learning from each other through research and education strategies,” Professor Pettigrew said. Professor Victor Minichiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions, said that the strategic relationships developed between UNE and institutions such as Naresuan University and the World Health Organisation would provide benefits to the global community.

Women in Agriculture

November 13th, 2009

normal_2008-cpa-ebl-awards-0003Women’s representation in leadership positions in agricultural industries and regional communities more generally was the focus of a report co-authored by Professor Alison Sheridan and her colleague from Curtin University of Technology, Professor Fiona Haslam McKenzie. The report identifies where women are located across occupations and industries in the Australian paid workforce and examines the reasons for women’s low representation in formal leadership positions in agriculture and regional organisations. It concludes with recommendations for improving the proportion of women in formal leadership roles and enhancing women’s leadership experiences. The report, ‘Revisiting Missed Opportunities – growing women’s contribution to agriculture’, was released by the Rural Industries Woman of the Year, 2009, Roma Britnell, in Canberra on 15 September, with the importance of the findings stressed by the Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, the Hon Tony Burke, MP in his press release about the report.

Economics of Invasive Species

November 13th, 2009

Issues concerning the economics of invasive species (both animal and plant) have been addressed by two projects. A recent research report by Associate Professor Sinden and Dr Wendy Gong (BEPP), Dr Randall Jones of the NSW DPI, and Dr Mike Braysher of the University of Canberra, invasive animal pests cause economic losses of at least $744m each year in Australia. The $744m costs comprise $621m in damage to agriculture and $123m in expenditures on management, research and control. The Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre funded the study. The question of how to best address the problems of invasive species is the focus of other project. Deciding how money should be allocated within pest management programs is a tricky process. Associate Professor Oscar Cacho and Dr Susie Hester, agricultural and resource economists have received grants from the Australian Centre for Excellence in Risk Analysis (ACERA) and the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) for this work. This research has led to productive partnerships with leading weed scientists, ecologists, economists, mathematicians and pest managers at Biosecurity Queensland, DAFF, The Univ of Queensland, Melbourne University, Monash and ANU. Oscar is also associated with the Australian Centre for Biosecurity and Environmental Economics at ANU. Susie is currently busy reviewing national and international research on post-border pest-surveillance techniques, which is part of a project with ACERA that aims to create an accessible summary of the available techniques, to assist biosecurity managers make decisions about resource allocation within pest-management programs.

Award – Rural Mental Healthcare

November 13th, 2009

The Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency Marie Bashir AC, has recognised the University of New England’s School of Rural Medicine with an award for its research into rural mental healthcare. The award was presented to Professor Fiona Stewart on behalf of UNE’s School of Rural Medicine, and recognizes research into ways of supporting mental health practitioners, particularly those who work with children and adolescents in regional areas. Chancellor of the UNE, Dr Richard Torbay commended the research undertaken by Professor John Fraser and A/Prof. Christian Alexander . Professor Fraser said the research involved great deal of collaboration between UNE and rural GPs across rural NSW. Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions, Professor Victor Minichiello said the award demonstrates the significant impact the newly established medical school is making in the field of rural healthcare.

European Commission Scholarship

November 13th, 2009

An academic from UNE has won a highly competitive scholarship from the European Commission that will enable him to share ideas with researchers in Scandinavia. Dr Siri Gamage, a Senior Lecturer in UNE’s School of Education, is known internationally as an expert analyst of – and commentator on – ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. He said that the Erasmus Mundus Scheme Scholarship would enable him to broaden his investigation of the human rights instruments available to ethnic minorities in nations around the world, and the conflicting claims of “national sovereignty” and the rights of minorities to “self-determination”. Dr Gamage’s scholarship will take him to the University of Tromso in Norway where he will be Visiting Scholar in the Department of Social Anthropology. He will go on to the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, where he will be a Visiting Scholar in the School of Global Studies. Dr Gamage’s paper “Economic liberalisation, changes in governance structure and ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka”, was published this year in the Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 39 (2). The Erasmus Mundus Scheme aims to enhance the quality of higher education within the European Union by encouraging dialogue between European academics and researchers and those from beyond Union.