Flagship Research Program

Update 14/05/2021

Western Alliance is pleased to announce that a research study shortlisted for our recent Flagship Research Program; ‘A Listening and Learning Healthcare System approach to improve outcomes for acute-care mental health consumers in the Barwon-Southwest Victoria Region,’ will go ahead following generous funding of $197,613 by Barwon Health. The project will be managed, monitored and supported by Western Alliance.

This important research program is led by Barwon Health and Deakin’s Change to Improve Mental Health Translational Research partnership (CHIME) and Deakin’s Institute of Health Transformation, in collaboration with the Western Victorian Primary Health Network (PHN), Ballarat Health Services, South West Healthcare, the City of Greater Geelong, G21 and the Victoria Police. CHIME brings together academics, regional mental healthcare providers and people with lived experience to co-create an adaptive, dynamic, consumer-driven mental health system.

The two-year research program will explore the utility of new systems-based approaches for co-creation of systemic mental healthcare solutions in the Barwon-Southwest region. Chief Investigator, Professor Anna Peeters, said that the study provides a timely opportunity to address the systemic failures highlighted by the recent Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

Western Alliance looks forward to supporting this research and helping to improve mental health outcomes across regional and rural western Victoria.

Announcement of successful Flagship Research Program

We are very excited to announce our inaugural Flagship Research Program! This proved to be a very competitive process, with 10 Expressions of Interest received and 4 formal applications reviewed by an external panel. We would like to thank all applicants, and congratulate Professor Peter Vuillermin and his team, who have been successful in attracting $198,969 for their research program titled ‘The Pregnancy Research and Translation Ecosystem’. Further details of this collaborative initiative can be found below:

Collaborating organisations: Barwon Health, Ballarat Health Services, East Grampians Health Service, Colac Area Health, Western District Health Service, Deakin University, Gen V (Murdoch Children’s Research Institute), Federation University

Lead Investigator: Prof Peter Vuillermin, Barwon Health/Deakin University

Associate Investigators:

Dr Geraldine Masson, Barwon Health, Director of Women’s Services

Dr Vidanka Vasilevski, Deakin University, Research Fellow

A/Prof Vincent Versace, Deakin University, Director, Deakin Rural Health

Prof Alison Hutchinson, Deakin University, Director for the Centre for Quality and Patient safety


Prof Steve Allender, Deakin University, Director of Obesity Prevention

Prof Linda Sweet, Deakin University, Chair in Midwifery, Western Health

Dr Thom Quinn, Deakin University, Associate Research Fellow

A/Prof Danny Hills, Federation University, Deputy Dean, School of Health

Clinical A/Prof Anna Wong Shee, Ballarat Health Services, Associate Professor Allied Health

Laura Griffiths, Colac Area Health, Maternity Unit Manager

Tracey Walters, East Grampians Health Service, Manager, Acute Services

Jaclyn Bishop, East Grampians Health Service, Western Alliance Research Translation


Sonia Shaw, Western District Health Service, Maternity Services co-ordinator

Prof Sharon Goldfield MCRI, GenV

Prof Richard Saffery MCRI, GenV

Overview: The Pregnancy Research and Translation Ecosystem (PRT-E) will generate and implement best evidence to improve maternal and infant health. To achieve this, PRT-E will leverage the Birthing Outcomes System (BOS) which is used by each of the participating services to collect data on pregnancy care, and collaboration with the fully funded GenV initiative, which aims to recruit and follow 80% of all infants born in Victoria over the coming 2 years. BOS/GenV data on >8000 pregnancies will create an internationally unique resource. In concert, we will assemble a Pregnancy Stakeholder Working group comprising consumers and health professionals from each of the participating centres. The Working Group will be trained and supported by the established systems of Deakin University’s Institute of Health Transformation (IHT) to identify drivers of safety and quality in pregnancy care; and to then co-design and prioritise research questions to be addressed using the internationally unique BOS/GenV data resource (Figure 1). Our pilot stakeholder workshops identified reducing the high rate of birth by caesarean section (CS) as a shared priority. Therefore, as an inception project, we will support the Working Group to co-design an evidence informed clinical trial and translation strategy to safely reduce the CS rate in our region. In so doing, PRT-E will provide an exemplar of co-creation to drive health service reform and a formidable platform for future competitive research funding.

Western Alliance is pleased to open expressions of interest for its inaugural Flagship Research Program, which will see the allocation of a single grant of up to $200,000 towards solving a key problem, based on identified priorities from our health sector member organisations across rural and regional western Victoria.

Western Alliance has now funded over 45 individual research projects across the region, and using the strong foundation provided by our support for these individual projects, we are now looking to identify a key problem and support a program of research activity and capacity building that will assist in solving it.

Applications are now CLOSED

Application process and timeline:

Component Timeline
Step 1:  Call for expressions of interest December 8th 2020 to January 29th 2021
Step 2: Preliminary review and shortlisting January 29th 2021 to February 12th 2021
Step 3: Shortlisted projects progress to formal application February 12th  2021 to March 16th 2021
Step 4: Panel review of formal applications March 16th 2021 to march 30th 2021
Step 5: Panel interviews March 30th 2021 to April 9th 2021
Step 6: Panel decision and applicants notified of outcome By April 12th 2021