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A packed crowd at the main Warracknabeal campus meeting room learned about Rural Northwest Health’s collaborative involvement in several research programs.
Community members and RNH team members were given updates on research projects by those facilitating them and were able to ask questions at the end of the session.
John Aitken has completed his PhD with La Trobe University and spoke on his studies with the Community Action Research Group. The group was formed through a joint initiative of La Trobe University and Rural Northwest Health from an original concept started by Professor Jane Farmer. It was designed to uncover the types of health services the community would most likely need in the next two decades.
Swinburne University’s Carolyn Wallace spoke on the newest research project which was centred around connecting communities through various organisations and services. The idea of the project is to unearth the community’s more isolated members to ensure they are getting the best health care. At this early stage the program is referred to as Boundary Spanners but Carolyn said she was open to suggestions for a better title.
The research project that appeared to gain the most attention was the YCHANGe project which also involves Yarriambiack Shire and is steered by Deakin Univeristy. The project is headed by Dr Penny Love and research fellow Jill Whelan who reported on YCHANGe’s progress at the forum. Ms Whelan said there was still much to do but the project had already been successful in removing the shire’s status as being the most obese in Victoria.
RNH executive and manager of the Warracknabeal campus residential aged care Wendy Walters spoke about the success of the ABLE model which was created by her team working in collaboration with Nahri Institute. The model of care has been published in Canada and is recognised internationally.
RNH executive Dr Kaye Knight convened and hosted the forum. She said Rural Northwest Health was renowned in university circles for its commitment to research.
“We are certainly held in high regard for the role we play in this field but we also understand how important this type of research is for helping us understand the needs of small communities,” Dr Knight said.

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