Archive for the ‘School of Health’ category

UNEs Collaborative Research Network program on mental health has been successful

June 1st, 2011

This CRN will be led by University of New England working with five partners, Newcastle, Sydney, La Trobe and NSW universities and Hunter New England Area Heath Service. It will expand the emerging Rural Health research strength at UNE, feeding into education of 1,400 health professionals annually. Partner institutions will extend their reach into and knowledge of rural regions. CRN activities will build links with rural communities and health providers in Northern Inland NSW and Victoria, with focus on investigating mental heath and well-being including health workforce sustainability, self-care, suicide, disabilities, sexuality, inclusion, and biomedical science supporting rural mental health.

The funding will see the recruitment of a significant number of PhD scholarship students and Postdocs working on three research themes.

A huge congratulations to a range of colleagues who worked to get this project off the ground, including Victor Minichiello, Rafat Hussain, Myf Maple, Pierre Meons, Gail Hawkes, John Scott, and many other folks. And of course our partners in the other universities.

This funding and partnership with key research intensive universities will significantly boost our research activity on a topic of national and international importance.

More information on the program can be found at:

Tablelands Clinical School to be built on-site at Armidale Hospital

July 22nd, 2010

The University of New England and Hunter New England Health have today announced that the Tablelands Clinical School and General Practice Training Facility will be built on the Armidale Hospital Campus.

The University of New England, as part of the Joint Medical Program with the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and Northern Sydney Central Coast Health, have been successful in receiving $5.5 million dollars in Commonwealth funding, awarded under the Rural Education Infrastructure Development (REID) program to construct and fit out the Tablelands Clinical School and develop a training practice building in collaboration with the New England Division of General Practice and GP Synergy.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of New England, Professor Jim Barber, welcomed the collaboration with the Hunter New England Health.

“This project is critical for both the University and the New England community as it is likely to increase the quality of clinical training and the capacity for clinical education across our area.

“It will create a professional environment with teaching clinics for healthcare students to obtain broader experience in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness,” Professor Barber said.

The new facility will serve medical students enrolled in the Joint Medical Program as well as other nursing and allied health students enrolled at UNE.

It will offer a greater range of clinical experiences by allowing students to be exposed to health problems seen by GPs and those referred to the hospital.

“Particularly important is the partnership between the University and the New England Division of General Practice in developing a training practice model of national and international significance,” Professor Barber said.

Chief Executive of Hunter New England Health, Dr Nigel Lyons, welcomed the initiative, supporting the development of the clinical teaching facility on the Armidale Hospital campus.

“The Joint Medical Program partnership has helped to establish Armidale as a clinical centre of excellence, offering practical opportunities and experiences for medical students and also provides benefits nursing and allied health students,” he said.

“We are pleased to welcome the Tablelands Clinical School and General Practice Training to the Armidale Hospital Campus. This establishes a firm training ground for students, by co-locating the learning environment in close proximity to patient care.

“We look forward to working with the JMP partners to build upon the success of this model – from the facilities and buildings to the curriculum and dedicated staffing needed to make the program an ongoing success,” Dr Lyons said.

For Media enquiries, please contact Michael Kauter, UNE Media Adviser on 0429360498 or 67733872 or Kristy Waddell at Hunter New England Health on 02 49855522.

New approach reveals roads to recovery from child sexual abuse

March 12th, 2010

normal_sally-hunter-book-launch-05By taking a novel approach to the subject of child sexual abuse, a researcher at the University of New England has revealed some of the inner sources of resilience that can enable adults to recover from such childhood experiences.

Dr Sally Hunter, who has just published her findings in a book titled Childhood Sexual Experiences: Narratives of Resilience, decided at the outset of her research not to label such experiences “abuse”. “This approach enabled me to hear new narratives of resilience – especially from men,” she said. “Most of the men (and some of the women) I interviewed refused to be labelled as a victim – or even as a survivor – of child sexual abuse, either because they chose not to see their experiences as abusive or damaging, or because they didn’t want their whole identity to be linked to events in childhood.

“I have found that it is more useful to frame the discussion of this issue around ‘childhood sexual experiences’ rather than ‘child sexual abuse’ – at least to begin with.”

Using this approach, Dr Hunter was able to hear stories that, she said, impressed her with “people’s amazing ability to overcome the effects of truly horrendous events in childhood”. “After often having a difficult time in early adulthood, these people are now living good, satisfying lives,” she said.

Speaking at the launch of Childhood Sexual Experiences at UNE earlier this week, Dr Hunter paid tribute to “the 22 remarkable men and women to whom I’m indebted for telling me their stories”.

“I have tried in the book to describe some of the impact that listening to their stories had on me,” she said. “And I have tried to do justice to their stories, and use their insights to help other people come to terms with their own experiences and recognise their own strengths and resilience.”

“As a result of my research,” she explained, “it is my belief that childhood sexual experiences often cause relational injuries. After all, if you feel betrayed or used by someone that you loved or admired as a child, this is going to affect your ability to trust people and to build good relationships with others. It is this relational injury that I believe is a more useful construct than the concept of ‘trauma’, or the idea of ‘victimhood’ – or even ’survivorhood’.”

In officially launching Childhood Sexual Experiences, the Vice-Chancellor of UNE, Professor Jim Barber, spoke from his past experience as a researcher on several projects related to child sexual abuse. “How do you ‘welcome’ a book on this subject?” Professor Barber asked . . . and then said: “I welcome it because it’s a book about resilience and the fact that it is possible to recover.”

Childhood Sexual Experiences: Narratives of Resilience, by Sally V. Hunter, is published in Oxford, UK, by Radcliffe Publishing.

Social Work – School of Health

March 4th, 2010

normal_linda-turner-0001One way the growing Social Work team in the School of Health at UNE will provide students with valuable learning experiences while meeting the community “on its own turf” is through establishing mutually beneficial partnerships with social workers and members of community organizations who are demonstrating leadership in initiatives that contribute toward positive social change. Last year social work team members Dr. Myfanwy Maple and Dr. Ahmed Kuyini-Abubakar initiated discussions with social worker Sabine Altmann whose position involves working with the NSW police force responding to domestic violence issues in the Northern Region of NSW. Professor Angelika Hendchel  of The University of Luneburg, Germany will travel to UNE in March and April when the research components of the collaboration will be finalized. Dr. Linda Turner, from Canada, the latest to join the School’s social work team, has with her former colleagues recently contributed to a forthcoming book on Field Education in Human Services in that country. Faculty members from St. Thomas University’s Department of Social Work implemented an innovative model of field education two years ago that requires all social work students to spend their final practicum as members of a team working on a community-initiated project with a clearly articulated commitment to social justice. Research has demonstrated that students who become engaged in social action and advocacy while in university are more likely to contribute to social change when working as practitioners. Furthermore the rural communities who are trying to creatively respond to needs with limited or stretched resources and services are strengthened by the presence of students and the faculty who supervise them.  Rural agencies and organizations who participate in partnerships of this nature are able to pursue initiatives such as advocacy, needs assessment and education that they would not otherwise have the time or the funding to develop.

Fostering Rural Innovation

January 28th, 2010

normal_plant-cotton-ruralInnovation is the creation and application of new ideas into products and services that benefit an industry, organisation, nation or society. The importance of innovation is well recognised by rural people, particularly in the areas of agriculture, education and healthcare. The Australian Government recognised its importance with its Review of the National Innovation System (2008).

Dr Philip Thomas from the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy, in collaboration with other UNE staff and Industry and Investment NSW, is driving UNE’s research on innovation and adoption.  Through the Primary Industries Innovation Centre (PIIC), Professor Bob Martin has been active in fostering this research agenda, which has also benefited from the support of the Sheep CRC. A related health innovations theme is being led by Professor Steven Campbell from the School of Health.

The focus of the research team is on strengthening UNE’s innovation research capabilities by establishing strategic collaborations. The approach is to:

  • create strong connections with the private sector and public and higher education institutions;
  • coordinate UNE’s capacity to service the need for achieving innovation; and
  • reduce the fragmentation that inhibits rural innovation-to-adoption research and practice.

The research involves:

  • identification and application of cutting-edge research tools to assist in creating innovation;
  • identification and use  of advanced translation strategies to support adoption; and
  • improvement in organisational processes, to ensure receptivity to innovation.

Dr Thomas recently co-presented a paper with Dr David Evans (Atlatl Management P/L) at the Australasia-Pacific Extension Network 5th International Conference entitled ‘Intentional Innovation Communities; Fast-Tracking Radical Improvement of Australia’s Innovation Performance’. This paper explained the concept of an Intentional Innovation Community (IIC) and outlined a proposal for a demonstration project in a rural / regional setting in Australia.

With the support of Bob Martin, planning for pilots is proceeding with Industry & Investment NSW, an agricultural interest group in Tamworth, PIIC and the NSW Farmers Association. Discussions are also underway for the involvement of other interested parties including Nuffield Scholars. It is expected the pilots will commence in early-mid 2010.

In July 2010, Dr Thomas will be chairing a meeting for CEO’s of Cooperative Research Centres on Innovation and Adoption at the Australian Society of Animal Production Biennial Conference, to be held at UNE.  So far 5 CRC CEO’s have indicated their intention to participate in what will prove to be a lively and engaging session.

For more information contact the researcher, Dr Philip Thomas:

Rural Healthcare Research

January 4th, 2010

Spatial CRCThe deficiencies in rural and remote health and medical services are well documented. Distance and rural location translate into space between users, practitioners and facilities, which in turn translates into time delays, costs and significant difficulties in bringing together all of the elements needed for effective primary healthcare.  The maxim of the patient’s need for the right health professional, with the right skills being in the right place and at the right time is most clear in the rural and remote settings.  Workforce gaps, the insufficiency of general and specialist infrastructures, the impact of transport and logistics upon delivery of and outcomes from services, the effect of remoteness and rural demographics on underlying health status are but some of the challenges which have a spatial dimension.

There are many strategies and innovations that are being used or developed, but often these are not effective or not readily adopted. The School of Health and the School of Rural Medicine, working with innovation researchers from the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy, are creating a new research programme, partly supported by the CRCSI Health research theme, to identify useful innovations systematically and to improve the way in which these are translated into practice.

Led by Professor Steven Campbell with colleagues from the Schools, the proposal has attracted the keen interest of front-line health organisations in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia, the ACT and Western Australia.

The research will make four contributions.

1. To develop a practice-based comprehensive understanding of

  • the unmet or inadequately met needs of front-line practitioners and patients for data, better intelligence, and integration of intelligence with practice;
  • the forms in which such intelligence ought be delivered to fit with the needs of users; and
  • the systems and support needed to make such ‘solutions’ effective.

2. To allow front-line rural practitioners to test and collaboratively refine potential solution configurations.

3. Through this process, and through related investigations, to improve the intelligence provided to front-line rural practitioners. This involves:

  • Improving the comprehensiveness and quality of the data with emphasis on approaches that do not add to (and hopefully reduce) the administrative loads on primary health service deliverers;
  • ensuring that the data that is consolidated and analysed within various systems is reliable for decision-making at the front line; and
  • Ensuring that the pricing, use rights, timeliness and other considerations that can limit usefulness are also addressed.

4.    Identifying a framework for adoption, by addressing the matters that are important to primary health service deliverers such as

  • Easy integration of innovations into practice infrastructures and processes;
  • Coordination and collaboration across various service providers;
  • Education and support;
  • Economic and other incentives; and
  • Reduction of institutional or other impediments that could make adoption difficult.

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.”

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.

CRC Spatial Information Re-Bid

August 15th, 2009

The CRC for Spatial Information extension will bring rapid and powerful collaboration on all critical research and education issues that involve a spatial aspect, and create a coordinated national network of satellite system reference stations to permit real‐time positioning to two centimetre accuracy; and establish the fully functioning Australian Spatial Marketplace. UNE will be involved in two major projects:
Biomass Business is a major demonstrator project within the CRC for Spatial information which aims to empower Australia’s response to climate change by transforming the way public and private land managers balance agricultural productivity and sustainability. UNE will host this major project, using its significant strength in precision agriculture research to bring together agronomists, soil scientists, sensor specialists, physicists, ecosystem scientists, plant biologists, statisticians and computer scientists. The project aims to develop spatial‐based tools to drive on‐farm improvements in water, fertiliser and pasture utilisation, and associated soil health necessary to maintain the profitability of agricultural businesses, while maximising the synergies between production and environmental accountability. The project involves 4 of Australia’s top ten corporate farmers, 8 small‐medium enterprises and three state land managers including NSW DECC, WA Land Information and Victoria DPI.
The successful rebid for the CRC Spatial Information opens up a further opportunity for cutting‐edge rural health research, based at UNE. A joint research programme with the University of Western Australia and various collaborators with UNE targets three fundamental health challenges associated with distance. These are the challenges of workforce, matching capabilities with needs, and the additional costs due to distance. The research is predicated on the expectation that linking spatial technology with other technology and management methods can assist to deliver tangible healthcare improvement in rural areas. Whilst the details of the research are yet to be developed in consultation with our partners in the CRC, it is expected to address the role of technology (with an emphasis on spatial data) integrated with management and clinical methods to improve the effectiveness of primary healthcare networks in rural areas; better enable service delivery models in remote areas, improve the utility of health technology and datasets, and improve spatial intelligence for health service design and delivery. Industry collaborators, BSR Solutions and 43pl, have signed on in support of UNE’s bid.

2nd Australasian Narrative Inquiry Conference

July 14th, 2009

The 2nd Australasian Narrative Inquiry Conference, held at UNE on Sunday the 12th and Monday the 13th of July, brought together more than 100 delegates from across Australia and from England, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, Australia, New Zealand and the United States to discuss their work of “discovery through narrative”. Narrative inquiry is a method of investigation that brings a holistic approach to research in the arts, humanities, health sciences and social sciences, and involves collecting otherwise
unobtainable information about a research topic by engaging in conversation with the subjects of the research. Keynote address were presented by Associate Professor Matt Englar-Carlson from California State University, (also an Adjunct Professor at UNE), and Lorina Barker, an Associate Lecturer in Australian History at UNE, who spoke about her research that has included making a film on the hitherto largely undocumented subject of Aboriginal shearers – a film that focuses on the story of her own family members, the Barker Brothers. Reports were presented on topics as diverse as Indigenous research, health and social care, education, ethics, gender studies, and the humanities. A separate, complementary stream of the conference, titled “Embracing Multiple Dimensions”, was convened by UNE’s Dr Myfanwy Maple and Dr Helen Edwards, dealt with “narrative through the arts”, and included seminar presentations, installations, exhibitions and performances. Dr Edwards said that visiting delegates had commented on the prominent position of Aboriginal people and their research in the conference.