Associate Dean (Research)

Associate Dean (Research)

During 2013 research has assumed a higher profile at ACU following the appointment of Professor Wayne McKenna as the new Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and the Futures Project commitment to research intensification. With the forthcoming addition of Social Work and the School of Psychology, and the establishment of a new School of Sciences, the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) will be home to most of the research activity at ACU. This will offer opportunities and challenges as we foster research excellence across a diverse faculty.

FHS Research Institute

Planning for the new Research Institute, has been moving forward swiftly. Presentations across campuses by Prof Wayne Mckenna, DVCR, Prof Janet Hiller, ADR and Prof Don Iverson Pro Vice-Chancellor (Health) at University of Wollongong were followed by staff consultation culminating in a Faculty Research Institute Planning Day. Leading researchers from all disciplines that will constitute the realigned Faculty in 2014 were present. Participants concentrated their attention on the goals set by the Futures Project: aiming to create a critical mass of researchers, supporting high-level cross disciplinary collaborations and lifting ACU’s research profile to ratings of 4 and 5 in the next ERA assessment. Prof Michelle Campbell took the recommendations that emerged to the ACU Leadership Retreat.

External funding awarded

Table 1 shows successful external grants that have been awarded in 2013. The information was taken from Research Services. Congratulations to all for such a considerable achievement!

Table 1: External grants awarded to ACU FHS in 2013

Principal investigator

Principal ACU investigator

Project title

Parent organisation

Awarded to ACU (year awarded)

A/Prof Karen-leigh Edward

A/Prof Karen-leigh Edward

·         Effective Catholic identity formation for nurses in Catholic private healthcare – Case study

·         Determinants of cardiac outcomes and adherence behaviours

·         Impact of lifestyle management on the control of seizures and HRQoL including subjective well being and resilience

St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Melbourne


Each project awarded $10,000


Ms Philippa Gent

Ms Philippa Gent

Self-reported professional development needs of Qualified Ambulance Paramedics in Victoria

Paramedics Australasia




Dr Elaine Jefford

Dr Elaine Jefford

Emergency Maternity and Peri-operative Care



Ms Lynn Hoey

Prof Paul Fulbrook

Quality of sleep in an acute hospital setting

Prince Charles Hospital Foundation



Prof Janet Hiller

Prof Janet Hiller

Changing policy and practice in health care

NHMRC Project grant



Prof Dinah Reddihough

Prof Christine Imms

Centre of Research Excellence in Cerebral Palsy (CRE-CP)

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

A total of $2,497,003;

(Awarded to ACU: tbc)

Prof Tracey McDonald

Prof Tracey McDonald

Joint Appointment - Chair and Prof’ship of Ageing (Veterans and Community)

RSL Life Care



Prof Fran McInerney

Prof Fran McInerney

Wicking TACF Program


Department of Health and Ageing



Prof Sandy Middleton

Prof Sandy Middleton

QASC Implementation program

NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation



Prof Elizabeth Armstrong

Prof Sandy Middleton

Very Early Rehabilitation in Speech: An RCT of aphasia therapy after stroke via ECU

National Health and Medical Research Council

No funds to ACU

A/Prof Paula Schulz

A/Prof Paula Schulz

Improving outcomes for Indigenous Bachelor of Midwifery students enrolled in the ACU Away from Base program

Health Department (Qld)



Prof Simon Stewart

Prof David Thompson

Centre of Research Excellence to reduce inequality in heart disease

National Health and Medical Research Council

$2,493,650 (Awarded to ACU: tbc)


Prof Simon Stewart

Prof David Thompson

The WHICH? Trial of standard versus intensified heart failure care

National Health and Medical Research Council

No funds to ACU

Mr Eoin Patrick Quinn

Mr Eoin Patrick Quinn

The benefits of an in-sole feedback device on walking quality and balance of stroke survivors

National Stroke Foundation




Congratulations to Dr Ross Clark, (Lecturer, School of Exercise Science), for being awarded a 2013 Victoria Fellowship in Life Sciences from VESKI (Victorian Endowment for Science, Knowledge and Innovation). Ross is planning to use this grant of $18,000 to go to Rochester Medical School in New York for Traumatic Brain Injury research.

We are pleased to announce that the Port Adelaide Football Club is the latest industry group to co-fund a PhD scholarship. One of our graduates, who is based at Port Adelaide as the Head of High Performance, will co supervise with Dr Craig Duncan, (Senior Lecturer, Exercise Science).

Internal funding schemes

The Faculty continues to offer opportunities to develop research capacities in 2013, $210,000 was allocated to support students and $345,000 to staff who are research-active.

Applications are now being accepted for FRGs for 2014, closing date is Friday 1 November.  Grants are available of between $10-18K. Closing date for Student Vacation Scholarships is 18 October. For more information, see the research support page here.

A number of our researchers have been awarded research funding from the VC or the DVCR office. Prof Christine Imms was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award. Prof David Thompson, Prof Sandy Middleton, Prof Christine Imms and Dr Tim Gabbett were awarded post doctoral fellows for 3 years and Prof Middleton was also awarded a PhD scholarship to enhance her work on stroke.

HERDC Publications

From January to August 2013, 84 HERDC eligible publications were reported to the ADR office. The publication list by School is shown in Table 2. The full detailed list will be shown in the Faculty’s 2013 Annual Report.

Table 2: HERDC publications by School as reported from Jan-Aug 2013





Allied and Public Health




Exercise Science




Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine
















McInnes L et al. (Int J Nurs Stud, 2012) paper entitled “Preventing pressure ulcers – Are pressure-redistributing support surfaces effective? A Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis” has been listed among Elsevier Top 25 most downloaded articles in 2013 from Elsevier published journals in Nursing.

Similarly, two of Dr Ross Clark’s published papers were among Elsevier Top 25 downloaded articles in 2013 from Elsevier published journals in Orthopaedics / Biomechanics / Rheumatology. Manuscript titles are as follows:

Clark R et al. (Gait & Posture, 2010) Validity and reliability of the Nintendo Wii Balance Board for assessment of standing balance.
Clark et al. (Gait & Posture, 2012) Validity of the Microsoft Kinect for assessment of postural control

The Top 25 Articles 2013 were ranked in order of the number of full-text downloads they received from the ScienceDirect platform during the period of Jan- Jun 2013.

We congratulate A/Prof Liz McInnes and Dr Ross Clark for this outstanding achievement.

Distinguished Visiting Research Fellows

Each year ACU invites internationally recognized scholars to visit for the purpose of research collaboration, consultation and participation in research. The 2013 Distinguished Visiting Research Fellows for the Faculty of Health Sciences are:

  • Professor Mats Granlund, Professor of Psychology, School of Health Sciences, Jonkoping University, Sweden. Prof Granlund will be presenting a seminar in the Research Conversations series on November 7.
  • Professor Susan Pressler, Professor of Nursing, University of Michigan, MI, USA.

HDR students 2013

HDR student projects continue to be an important part of the Faculty’s overall research activity, with 34 new students starting their HDR degree in 2013 – a 10% increase compared with 2012 – with 19 PhD students and 15 undertaking a Research Master’s degree.

During Jan-Aug 2013, five HDR students completed their degree, three PhD students from the School of Exercise Science and two Master’s students from the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine.

Research Master’s degree

During 2013 we continued the review that commenced in 2012 of the faculty research Master’s degree with a view to introducing a single Faculty wide research Masters with embedded discpline specific training units. It is planned to have an 18-month FTE degree with embedded coursework and a research component that would allow articulation with a PhD for high achieving candidates.

Research culture at ACU FHS

Handbook: A research Handbook designed to support new and continuing staff in the Faculty was posted on LEO, Sharepoint and the Faculty website. The handbook contains active hyperlinks and information pertinent to research and higher degree by research supervision in the faculty. The Handbook includes valuable information relating to research support, research funding, research income, publication, academic staff training and numerous other topics. For more information, go to this website.

Please send any suggestions to improve, revise and extend the Handbook to

Research Conversations: The FHS Research Conversation Series aims to build and strengthen the Faculty’s research culture. The 2013 series comprised presentations on ARC and NHMRC funding in Semester 1 and on the elements that make for successful interdisciplinary research centres throughout Semester 2.

Published in the Lancet - Congratulations Helen Stapleton and Sue Kildea 

One-to-one midwife care just as safe and costs significantly less than current maternity care

Continued care from a named midwife throughout pregnancy, birth, and after the baby is born (caseload midwifery) is just as safe as standard maternity care (shared between rostered midwives, and medical practitioners in discrete wards or clinics) for all women irrespective of risk, and is significantly cheaper, according to new research published in The Lancet.

“Caseload midwifery costs roughly AUS$566.00 (£333.00) less per woman than current maternity care, with similar outcomes for women of any risk, and could play a major part in reducing public health expenditure in countries like the UK and Australia where standard maternity care is shared between different health professionals”*, explains study leader Professor Sally Tracy from the University of Sydney in Australia.

The Midwives @ New Group practice Options (M@NGO) study randomly assigned pregnant women (aged 18 or older) from two metropolitan teaching hospitals in Australia to a named caseload midwife (or back-up caseload midwife; 871 women) or standard shared care with rostered midwives and medical practitioners (877), to compare outcomes for mothers and babies and cost of care.

The researchers noted no difference between the groups in number of caesareans, use of epidurals, instrumental births, 5-minute Apgar scores of 7 or less (a system for determining a newborn's health using a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the healthiest), admission to neonatal intensive care, or preterm birth.

However, women who received caseload midwifery care were less likely to have an elective caesarean (before the onset of labour), more likely to have a spontaneous labour, required less pain drugs and had less blood loss following birth, needed to stay in hospital for less time, and had improved breastfeeding rates—which together, say the authors, accounted for the lower cost of caseload midwifery.

According to Tracy, “The caseload model of midwifery has been largely overlooked in maternity systems because of a perception that the service will be too expensive and that the model is not safe for complex pregnancies. Our results show that in women of any risk caseload midwifery is safe and cost effective.”

Commenting on the study, Petra ten Hoope-Bender from Instituto de Cooperación Social Integrare in Switzerland says, “A health system that makes caseload midwifery services available to all women would provide the right services to the right women at the right time. Such an approach can reduce unnecessary interventions, iatrogenic harm, deaths, and costs. It can also strengthen the health and wellbeing of women, the start of the early years of life, and the capabilities of women to take care of their families and themselves…A crucial final piece in this study is the analysis of women’s satisfaction with caseload midwifery, to which I would recommend investigators add the satisfaction and workload of midwives.”

Prof Sally K Tracy DMid, Donna L Hartz PhD, Mark B Tracy FRACP, Jyai Allen BMid, Amanda Forti RM, Bev Hall MIPH, Jan White RM, Anne Lainchbury MMid, Helen Stapleton PhD, Michael Beckmann FRANZCOG, Andrew Bisits FRANZCOG, Prof Caroline Homer PhD, Prof Maralyn Foureur PhD, Alec Welsh FRANZCOG, Prof Sue Kildea PhD.

Read full article

*Quote direct from author and cannot be found in text of Article.

Professor Janet Hiller

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