November 2014

CRE Data Manager invited to speak at GIS Day in Adelaide, 19 November 2014

Dr Deborah van Gaans was an invited speaker at GIS Day in Adelaide recently. GIS Day provides an international forum for users of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society.  Dr van Gaans’ presentation titled “Using GIS to Improve Accessibility to Phase 2 Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs” provided the audience with numerous applications of the use of GIS within one project.  She was able to show how GIS was used to highlight the initial problem that formulated her research questions, to create a model for better understanding of the current state of play, to validate the model she created and finally to highlight where improved accessibility to Phase 2 Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs should occur. 

Dr van Gaans’ presentation can be downloaded here. 

CRE Lead Investigator attends the 3rd Annual NHMRC Research Translation Faculty Symposium in Melbourne, 12-13 November 2014

Professor Robyn McDermott, Lead Investigator of the CRE recently presented at the NHMRC Symposium titled “Achieving better health outcomes for Australians living with chronic conditions through more effective research translation.”

This year the Symposium focused on how better translation of research results can lead to improved health outcomes for Australians living with one or more chronic conditions. There were 300 delegates and 75 speakers across 6 parallel sessions, 8 workshops and 4 plenary sessions.

Professor McDermott’s presentation was titled “A systems approach to improving health outcomes in individuals with chronic conditions in rural and remote settings: lessons from a ‘failed’ trial” and she discussed some of the challenges of implementing the NHMRC funded ‘Getting better at chronic care’ Partnership Grant 570149.

Professor McDermott’s presentation can be viewed here.

All presentations from the Symposium can be viewed here.



CRE researcher and DrPH candidate, Sean Taylor, receives award at the 2014 Torres Strait Employment and Training Recognition Awards evening held on Thursday Island in October 2014, 29 October 2014

Torres Strait employees and businesses were recognised at the prestigious 2014 Torres Strait Employment and Training Recognition Awards, held on Thursday Island in October 2014. CRE researcher and DrPH candidate, Sean Taylor won the main prize of the evening – the ‘My Pathway Ken O’Brien’ Achiever Award’, for his work in health services to help reduce chronic disease in Indigenous people in the Torres Strait islands.

The CRE congratulates Sean on this important award. Read more about the community awards.

CRE Data Manager presents at the 2014 State Population Health Conference in Adelaide, 18 October 2014

Dr Deborah van Gaans’ presentation titled: “A Survey of Accessibility to Australia’s Phase 2 Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs” highlighted her findings from her doctoral studies which centred on improving equity to accessing Phase 2 Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs within Australia.  Deborah explained that the Cardiac Rehabilitation Accessibility Survey showed that patient accessibility to Phase 2 Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs extends beyond service availability and that socio-economic factors can prevent or limit service use by patients.   She found that while patient barriers to cardiac rehabilitation are well documented, the interaction between patients and programs needs to be considered by service providers to improve patient access to these health services.

Dr van Gaans’ presentation can be downloaded here.

CRE researchers and collaborators win a National Health and Medical Research Project Grant commencing in 2015, 17 October 2014

CRE researchers Dr India Bohanna (CRE Research Associate) and Associate Professor Alan Clough (CRE Chief Investigator) were part of a team who were successful in winning $857,769 in the latest round of Project Grants announced by the NHMRC. 

Their project will commence in 2015 and is titled “The transition from hospital to home: a longitudinal study of Indigenous traumatic brain injury (TBI)”. Dr Bohanna will lead the project as CIA, and Associate Professor Clough is CIC.  The project will be administered by James Cook University.

University of South Australia research Professor Adrian Esterman is also a Chief Investigator on the project.

CRE Lead Investigator hosts a workshop titled “Mixed Methods in Prevention and Health Services Research” in Cairns, 16-17 October 2014

CRE Lead Investigator, and Professor of Public Health Medicine at the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention at James Cook University Robyn McDermott hosted a number of local and guest speakers including Professor Rob Sanson-Fisher from the University of Newcastle and Professor Chris Doran of the Hunter Medical Research Research Institute. Also in attendance was Ms Kerri Kellett, Liaison Officer for Primary Health Care Research, Evaluation and Development (PHCRED).

CRE based James Cook University researchers joined 22 other workshop participants with a goal of improving their understanding of research and evaluation techniques and learning how to apply mixed methods in real world projects.

The presentations covered research study design and discussed how project effectiveness can be influenced by variations in implementation, intervention components, participant behaviour and recruitment and conditions in study sites. The workshop also discussed the need to concisely communicate research outcomes to policy makers.

The program and presentations can be found here.

CRE Chief Investigator Associate Professor Alan Clough speaks on ABC radio about the alcohol ban lift in Yarrabah, 3 October 2014

The ABC reported that residents in the Indigenous community of Yarrabah, near Cairns in far north Queensland, were able to buy alcohol for the first time in six years in early October 2014.

Yarrabah hosted its first rodeo in half a century and were granted a temporary liquor licence, to be run by a non-profit organisation. The community is one of 19 in Queensland subject to alcohol bans which are currently under review by the Newman Government.

CRE researcher Alan Clough, whose research involves assessing the Alcohol Management Plans in far north Queensland was interviewed by the ABC .  Over the past 15 months his team has surveyed 700 people in seven far north Queensland communities including Yarrabah. He discussed both positive and negative impacts of Alcohol Management Plans. Listen to the full interview.

August 2014

CRE Data Manager awarded a South Australian Spatial Excellence Award

CRE Data Manager Dr Deborah van Gaans was awarded an Individual Award for her Postgraduate Research at the South Australian Spatial Excellence Awards (SASEA) dinner held at the Adelaide Convention Centre on Friday 29 August 2014. An annual gala event sponsored by the Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute and the Spatial Industries Business Association, the South Australian Excellence Awards aim to recognise and acknowledge excellence in the spatial information industry in South Australia.

This award recognises the research Dr van Gaans undertook during her doctoral studies at the University of Adelaide where she developed a spatial model of accessibility to phase 2 cardiac rehabilitation programs.  Her model has been used to identify areas within Australia where accessibility to phase 2 cardiac rehabilitation programs could be improved and where new programs or models of delivery should be established.

The CRE congratulates Dr van Gaans on this notable achievement.

July 2014

CRE researcher invited to the National Health and Medical Research Council’s NAIDOC celebrations

CRE researcher Sean Taylor was invited to speak to NHMRC staff recently when they met to recognise the contribution of Indigenous Australians to health and medical research.  Sean talked about his research, and his life journey as a descendant from the Dowareb tribe from Mer Island in the Eastern Torres Straits.  As part of his Doctorate of Public Health studies, Sean‘s research aims to improve diabetes care and management.  Read the full NHMRC article.

Adding to Sean’s recent Roberta Sykes Fellowship and the NHMRC Rising Star Research Excellence Award presented to Dr Sandra Campbell in June for the top-ranked application by an Indigenous researcher in the Early Career Fellowship Scheme, the CRE is proud to have two highly regarded researchers on the team.

CRE researchers present at the Primary Health Care conference in Canberra

The 2014 PHC Research Conference was held from 23–25 July 2014 at the National Convention Centre in Canberra with the theme ‘Integrating knowledge exchange to improve primary health care outcome’

Lead investigator of the CRE, Professor Robyn McDermott presented results from her NHMRC funded research titled ‘Getting better at chronic care in north Queensland’.  This project is currently in year 4 of a 5 year trial of an intervention with intensive chronic care management delivered by Indigenous health workers to Indigenous adults with diabetes in 12 rural communities.  Professor McDermott highlighted the challenges of undertaking pragmatic trials of complex interventions.

CRE Research Fellow Dr Linton Harriss gave a poster presentation at the same conference titled ‘Far North Queensland Hospital Avoidance Trial’ and Dr Harris described the project he is working on with Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service to compare chronic disease case management with usual care in reducing potentially preventable hospitalisations and ED admissions.

More information about the conference

Professor McDermott's presentation

Dr Harriss' presentation


June 2014

CRE Researcher awarded a Roberta Sykes Fellowship, 18 June 2014

CRE researcher Sean Taylor was recently awarded a Roberta Sykes Fellowship worth $8000 to help fund his extended doctoral attachment to the Behavioral Diabetes Institute in San Diego, USA in early 2015. This placement forms an important part of Sean’s Doctor of Public Health studies. The Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation provides partial funding for Indigenous postgraduate students to undertake research at a recognised overseas academic institution as part of their Australian postgraduate study program.

Sean’s attachment will be from 12 January to 16 March 2015 and during this time Sean hopes to learn advanced methodologies that will assist with the development of his thesis titled ‘Improving Diabetes Care and Management in Torres Strait Remote Primary Health Care Settings’.  Sean will gain skills and experience in an extended workplace environment related to his area of research, by working closely with Dr William Polonsky and his team. Dr Polonsky is an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California and was recently honoured by the American Diabetes Association as a behavioural researcher who has made outstanding and/or innovative contributions in the study and understanding of behavioural aspects of diabetes. Sean is thrilled at the prospect of working with Dr Polonsky.

CRE Researcher awarded inaugural NHMRC Rising Star Research Excellence Award, 11 June 2014

At the National Health and Medical Research Council’s 200th Council Dinner on 11 June 2014, CRE researcher Dr Sandra Campbell was awarded the inaugural NHMRC Rising Star Research Excellence Award which was granted to the top-ranked application by an Indigenous researcher in the Early Career Fellowship Scheme.  Praised by NHMRC CEO Professor Warwick Anderson for her research, Dr Campbell seeks to maximise health outcomes for Indigenous women during pregnancy and ensure that their children get the best possible start in life. 

Her NHMRC Early Career Fellowship, the basis for her selection for the Rising Star award, consists of $306,596 from the NHMRC over four years.  As part of her research, Dr Campbell will work with Apunipima Cape York Health Council in far north Queensland to develop a research program aimed at closing the gap in health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and their babies.

Dr Campbell is an early career researcher at James Cook University in Cairns. After working as a nurse and midwife, she completed a Master of Applied Epidemiology in Indigenous health from Australian National University and a PhD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reproductive health epidemiology from the University of South Australia.

Dr Campbell’s profile | NHMRC announcement

May 2014

CRE Chief Investigator Professor Robyn McDermott gives a public lecture in Cairns, 21 May 2014

Professor Robyn McDermott was invited to give a public lecture in Cairns.  As part of the ‘Science & Society in the Tropics’ Public Lecture Series, Professor McDermott explored the health transitions which have taken place in humans in the past million or so years, and the various theories behind the global obesity and diabetes pandemic seen in the last 30 years.  Her presentation discussed the impact on health services, the environment and the economy, and considered what might be done about it.

Download Professor McDermott’s presentation ‘Epidemic obesity: where did it come from, what does it mean and where do we go from here?’ (PPTX 3MB)

The CRE welcomes new researchers Dr Anthea Krieg and Dr Andrew Black

Two new researchers were recently appointed to further the research of the Centre for Research Excellence at the University of South Australia.

Dr Anthea Krieg

Dr Anthea Krieg joined the CRE in late April 2014 as a Clinical Research Associate.  She is a qualified medical practitioner and nutritionist with a Master of Public Health. Having worked for many years with Aboriginal communities in a range of rural and urban primary care and prison settings in South Australia, she brings to the CRE a strong commitment to social justice.  She has a particular interest in primary health care access and engagement issues for vulnerable Aboriginal families, and responding to psychological distress and the associated mental health and substance misuse concerns that impact on engagement with health and social services.

Based in Ceduna (SA) and working for an Aboriginal controlled health-service; Ceduna-Koonibba Aboriginal Health Service Inc., Dr Krieg’s work will fall under the CRE’s Stream 3: Clinical Systems Improvement in Primary Care.  She is working on a three-year project which aims to provide intensive family outreach support to Aboriginal young people and their families at risk of engagement with the criminal justice system.  Support will be offered through intensive home-based care, assessing and providing an integrated response to health and social care.

Dr Krieg will work closely with CRE Chief Investigator Professor Leonie Segal, to develop a rigorous evaluation process for the project and to build further research capacity in this area.

Dr Andrew Black

Dr Andrew Black joined the CRE in May 2014 as a Research Fellow.  He is a GP and public health physician who has worked in Aboriginal health in the Northern Territory, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory for the past 17 years.  In 2012 he completed a PhD on the impact of food subsidy programs on children’s health. 

Currently based in Grafton (New South Wales) Dr Black works as a GP at Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation, and he has a particular interest in the role of nutrition in health promotion.  His research will fall under the CRE’s Stream 1: Nutrition and Physical Activity in Chronic Disease Prevention led by theme leader Professor Kerin O’Dea.  Dr Black’s experience working in the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in the Department of Health in Canberra has given him insight into Aboriginal health policy at a national level.  This will augur well for his CRE research where he will work collaboratively with other researchers in the field of nutrition in disadvantaged communities, and promote the application and evaluation of evidence-based approaches to improving nutrition in these communities.  His research will inform nutrition policy development relevant to rural and remote Australian communities.

March 2014

CRE Chief Investigator Professor Robyn McDermott gives presentation to Cairns Hospital Grand Rounds, 28 March 2014

At the Cairns Hospital Grand Rounds held on 28 March 2014, Professor Robyn McDermott gave a presentation on the research projects currently being undertaken by the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention, including research supported by the Centre for Research Excellence.

Download Robyn's presentation, The rise and rise of chronic disease in Far North Queensland.

CRE researchers attend the Comprehensive Primary Health Care in local communities (CPHC) symposium at Flinders University in Adelaide

Two CRE researchers, Associate Investigator Dr David Scrimgeour of the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) and Clinical Research Associate Dr Sarah Ahmed representing AHCSA and the University of South Australia, attended the CPHC symposium in Adelaide in March.  Dr Scrimgeour presented on ‘The Aboriginal Community controlled health care model’.  Dr Scrimgeour discussed the evidence and reasons for the success of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.  A copy of Dr Scrimgeour’s presentation can be found here.

Dr Ahmed particularly enjoyed presentations from Professor David Sanders and Professor Ron Labonte, both of whom contrasted the research findings with the international context. “The findings were bolstered by good presentations, debate, Q&A sessions with the audience and expert panel sessions” she commented.

Dr Ahmed’s own CRE funded research project deals with Aboriginal Community Controlled health services that aim to provide comprehensive primary health care, but exist within health funding models which promote selective primary health care provision.  The symposium presented findings around how the CPHC model is perceived by both patients and practitioners to provide ‘better’ care, particularly for chronic conditions and in rural settings. The international speakers supported this view with their presentations and highlighted the potential benefits of reengaging with CPHC processes.

A broad range of stakeholders from health service staff to medicare locals, government and academia from the three South Australian universities were represented at the symposium.

Further information about the symposium can be found here


November 2013

CRE Clinical Research Associate and Queensland country girl receives Rural Registrar of the Year Award

Dr Crystal Pidgeon, who grew up in Longreach and now works in Adelaide and Port Augusta, has been recognised for her outstanding work in General Practice and Aboriginal Health, being awarded the Telstra RDAA-ACRRM Rural Registrar of the Year Award for 2013. Dr Pidgeon was presented with the award during a gala dinner held in Cairns on Saturday 2 November 2013 as part of Rural Medicine Australia 2013, the national conference of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM). Professor Richard Murray, ACRRM President, said he was delighted to be recognising a young doctor for her dedication, the inspiration she has provided to others, as well as her outstanding clinical skills.  Crystal graduated from the rural medical school in Rockhampton after completing her undergraduate degree in Science and Education at the University of Queensland. She is currently undertaking an Advanced Specialised Training term in Aboriginal Health in South Australia, focusing on chronic disease prevention, as well as a Masters in Public Health and Tropical Medicine.  She currently spends her time between working as a doctor at the Pika Wiya Aboriginal Medical Service in Port Augusta, and completing a clinical research Fellowship with the Centre for Excellence in Chronic Disease Prevention in Rural and Remote Communities at the University of South Australia, Adelaide.

Dr Pidgeon said she was thrilled to be recognised for doing something she is so passionate about.

“I always wanted to be a doctor, and I could only ever imagine myself working in a rural area

 I just love working in Aboriginal Health. I am always learning something from working in an

Indigenous community—their 40,000 years of rich culture is just not something you really grasp doing cultural awareness training! I also really enjoy the team environment involved in working with Aboriginal Health Workers” Dr Pidgeon said.

Dr Pidgeon is second from the right.

Dr Pidgeon is second from the right.

CRE Fellow Sean Taylor awarded National Heart Foundation Australian Indigenous Scholarship

Congratulations to CRE Fellow Sean Taylor who has been awarded a National Heart Foundation Australian Indigenous Scholarship for his project "Improving Diabetes Care and Management in Torres Strait Remote Primary Health Care Settings.

The project aims to improve the management of diabetes in high risk people in remote Torres Strait communities through two studies. The first will improve our understanding of the issues behind so called "psychological insulin resisistance" (the refusal of Torres Strait Islanders to receive insulin treatment in spite of very poor glucose control), using client interviews and previously validated instruments. The second study will look at the impact of formal diabetes care planning and referrals in 5 remote clinics on care processes, intermediate clinical indicators and downstream health outcomes (complications) among 190 adults with diabetes, compared to "usual care" (4 "control" sites) in the Torres Strait, outer islands. The rationale for the second study is that, while it is assumed that care planning will improve clinical outcomes, care planning on its own may be insufficient in this population to achieve this, due to poor systems of follow up and high staff turnover.

Sean will commence his scholarship in 2015 after a 12 month stint working for the Medicare Local.

Project funding awarded is $115,000 over 3 years.

New researchers Dr Klaus Gebel and Dr Linton Harriss join the CRE Team

The CRE welcomes new researchers Dr Klaus Gebel and Dr Linton Harris to the CRE team based at James Cook University.

Dr Linton Harriss

Dr Linton Harriss, Senior Research Fellow at University of South Australia and Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at James Cook University, Cairns joins joins us from Melbourne where he completed his PhD in cardiovascular epidemiology in 2008 at Monash University (Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine) and the Cancer Council Victoria. His thesis examined the accuracy of national mortality codes in identifying adjudicated cardiovascular deaths in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study (MCCS) and also the effects of alcohol and dietary patterns in determining cardiovascular mortality. He has held senior research positions with Ambulance Victoria focusing on pre-hospital emergency care including cardiac arrest, trauma and mental health, and with the National Stroke Foundation managing the operation and evaluation of the National Stroke Audit Program. Linton has many years’ experience in the management of cardiovascular single- and multi-centre randomised controlled trials and has worked for several years as a member of the Alfred Health Human Ethics Committee.

Linton's work with the Centre will focus on mapping the distribution of chronic disease and access to health services in Queensland. The overall aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of people with chronic disease in Queensland by improving access to health services and will geographically map the distribution of people with chronic disease within each community and compare this to the distribution of health services currently available to these people. The project will explore factors that influence access to services (not simply distance) and identify resources required in these communities to optimise the ongoing care of people with chronic disease.

Linton also works at the Cairns Hospital Renal Dialysis Unit as a Registered Nurse.

Dr Klaus Gebel

Dr Klaus Gebel is a newly appointed Clinical Research Fellow with the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention at James Cook University (Cairns). He has master degrees in exercise science from the German Sport University Cologne and Victoria University, Melbourne, where he specialised first on exercise for rehabilitation and then on physical activity and public health. From 2005 to 2009 he did his PhD at the School of Public Health of the University of Sydney. Klaus has studied and worked at seven universities in three countries and has received multiple scholarships and awards. His main research interests are in environmental determinants of physical activity and obesity and in the health benefits of physical activity.

Klaus will be undertaking research on physical activity and obesity management, an emerging focus for Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention.

NHMRC Early Career Fellowships granted to CRE researchers Dr Caryn West and Dr Sandra Campbell

Congratulations to Dr Caryn West and Dr Sandra Campbell, CRE members based at James Cook University, who have been awarded an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship.

Dr Caryn West

Resilience in individuals and families coping with the impacts of alcohol related injuries in remote Indigenous communities: a program of mixed method research

Indicative Funding: $304,596 over 4 years

Alcohol Management Plans (AMPs), primarily to control alcohol availability, were first implemented by the Queensland Government a decade ago (2002-03). The new Queensland Government currently has AMPs under review, bringing the prospect that alcohol may become readily available once more in some communities. Initially, from 2002-03, AMPs seemed to have a number of positive effects on injury rates related to alcohol use, however the results varied across communities. As a paucity of rigorous data to fully describe positive changes in injury rates linked with Queensland’s controversial AMPs is available, it is important that in-depth studies of alcohol and injury in these communities be conducted. When injury and illness occur, individuals, families, communities and healthcare systems are also impacted. As yet there has been no research that explores the impact of alcohol related injuries in relation to individual, family and community resilience in Indigenous Australians. Revealing how some individuals and families survive and thrive, new ways of working with families who need support may be identified and adopted. For individuals, families and communities, this project gives voice to the impact of alcohol-related injuries and also identifies the strengths used when faced with this situation. This proposed mixed method research program aims to describe and categorise injuries in four remote Indigenous communities in Cape York, far north Queensland. With a focus on alcohol-related injuries the research will explore, in detail, the long-term impact of this kind of injury on individuals, families and communities in order to better understand resilience strategies that have helped to minimise alcohol’s negative effects

Chief Investigator: Dr Caryn West (CRE Fellow)

Dr Sandra Campbell

Project:  Improving pre-pregnancy health and pregnancy outcomes in north Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Indicative Funding: $306,596 over 4 years

The key aim of this research program is to identify opportunities and time-points for effective primary, secondary and tertiary interventions to improve health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women of childbearing age and their infants in north Queensland communities. The program will seek to establish sustainable processes to conduct surveillance and epidemiological research to determine protective maternal characteristics, and to monitor the impact of potentially preventable risk conditions on pregnancy and birth outcomes. An additional component of the program is to rigorously evaluate outcomes of complex interventions restricting the supply of alcohol in Cape York which may have powerful short and long-term impacts on the health of women of childbearing age and their infants.


October 2013

Leading Indigenous researcher Professor Alex Brown visits James Cook University

Professor Alex Brown, Indigenous theme leader of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) visited James Cook University during October to strengthen collaborations and further develop the research agenda with the CRE and Centre for Chronic Disease Disease Prevention.

During his visit, Professor Brown participated in a workshop to debate the concept of a family and community centred model of primary health care, hosted by CRE Chief Investigator Professor Robyn McDermott and Apunipima Cape York Health Council. The workshop also provided an opportunity to hear about research being undertaken by Professor Dr Alex Brown and to align research related to the delivery of primary health care, particularly in Aboriginal community controlled health services. Attendees at the workshop included representatives from The Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention, James Cook University, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service, Yarrabah; WuChopperen Health Service, Cairns; The Royal Flying Doctors Service; Cape York Hospital and Health Service and the FNQ Medicare Local.

Making the most of his visit, Professor Alex Brown also delivered a public lecture at James Cook University - “Chronic Disease and the PHC Response: what do we know and what can we do better?”. View this presentation

View Professor Alex Brown's profile

Areas of study and research

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