Funding Outcomes

Latest Western Alliance Funding Announcements

Western Alliance External Funding Supports Successful Cancer Council Grant

A team of Barwon Health clinician researchers has been awarded over $500,000 from Cancer Council Victoria, The Victorian Cancer Agency and Western Alliance to build the first regional Allied Health Clinical Trials Unit specialising in Cancer Supportive Care and Survivorship.

This three-year project will bring together cancer care consumers and leaders from three of Barwon Health’s most highly regarded clinical and research areas; Allied Health, Cancer Services and Clinical Trials, to design and develop a unique Allied Health Clinical Trials Unit based at the Adrian Costa Clinical Trials Centre.

Catherine Williams, Chief Investigator of the project, is a physiotherapist and Barwon Health’s Oncology Rehabilitation Care Coordinator. Catherine recognised that as allied health professionals are important providers of clinical care to people diagnosed with cancer, they are well-placed to identify and investigate potential areas for improvement.

The project team will work with local partnering organisations such as Western Alliance Academic Health Science Centre, Deakin University and Barwon South West Regional Integrated Cancer Service, as well as connecting with the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre Alliance and the Victorian Clinical Trials Education Centre.  Milestones will include the design of a customised clinical trials education and training package for the allied health cancer workforce, and identification of the best strategies for delivery of interventions using virtual care tools and teletrials, to support relationships between metro, regional and rural cancer care providers.

Once allied health clinical trial activity starts , the Allied Health Clinical Trials Unit will support and conduct trials that are initiated by allied health clinician researchers within Barwon Health and across the region, and will build partnerships with other providers of cancer supportive care and survivorship throughout Australia and internationally.

This project was supported by Western Alliance through our external funding support program, which is pitched at assisting research teams applying for major external research grants. To find out more or complete an EOI for this program, please click here.


Previous Western Alliance Funding Announcements

In partnership with our friends at the Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC) via the National Ageing Research institute (NARI), Western Alliance has over the past two years (with a few COVID based delays on the way) been working to identify ageing research projects to support in the western region. From this process, two projects were collaboratively developed, and are now being co-funded between the two organisations. We look forward to seeing the progress of these two important initiatives, and continuing to support collaborative ageing research with MARC and NARI into the future.


Reducing patient sedentary behaviour in sub-acute units at Ballarat Health Services (BHS)

Amount Awarded: $50,008

Principal Investigator: A/Prof Danny Hills

Associate Investigators: Professor Colette Browning (Federation University) Meredith Theobald (Ballarat Health Services), Danelle Klein (Ballarat Health Services), Dr Angela Rintoul (Federation University), A/Prof Frances Batchelor (National Ageing Research institute), Dr Christina Ekegren (Monash University)

Project overview:

The overall objective of the proposed project is to co-design, implement and evaluate interventions to reduce the sedentary behaviour of inpatients in two sub-acute units at BHS. Sedentary behaviour can make older adults particularly susceptible to deconditioning, and they will be a key participant group in this project.

The proposed project builds on research that found Australian nurses recognise reducing sedentary behaviour in patients is part of their role, but many have poor knowledge of physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines. Barriers to activating this role include a lack of time, poor patient motivation, and expectations of patients’ family and friends the patient should be allowed to rest. Having clear plans to facilitate greater activity in patients could overcome barriers.

Working in consultation with service managers, the research team will engage ward staff, inpatients and their family members. A participatory, co-design approach will be employed to develop site-appropriate strategies to reduce inpatient sedentary behaviour. Potential interventions might include communication with patients, family and friends, and/or new protocols for nursing staff work, review of ward design, policies and procedures, care planning and delivery, education and training.

Selected interventions will be implemented and evaluated in order to recommend ways to scale these interventions across other settings. In this way, the project will serve as a pilot to develop strategies that can be adopted more widely throughout the Western region of Victoria and beyond. Implementation mapping will be used to support the adoption, implementation and maintenance of the changes.


Feasibility and acceptability of the Digital Inclusion – Social Connections (DI-SC) Program

Amount Awarded: $10,000

Principal Investigator: Caroline Gibson (Ballarat Health Services)

Associate Investigators: A/Prof Mark Yates (Ballarat health Services), Dr Kirsten Moore (National Ageing Research institute)

Project Overview:

DI-SC brings together the provision of digital devices by the Bigger Hearts Ballarat Dementia Alliance (BHBDA) with the digital activity and mentoring project with the Ballarat North Neighbourhood House (BNNH) Be-Connected Program to implement one coherent project delivering a curated virtual social connections opportunity for socially isolated people impacted by dementia. DI-SC is a community driven program developed using principles of co-design, with participants supported through the program by informal carers, dementia trained Digital Mentor volunteers and a Dementia Support Coach.  

This project will explore the feasibility and acceptability of the DI-SC program above. A sample of participants and support people will be invited to participate in small focus group interviews to understand their perceptions of the feasibility and acceptability of the DI-SC program.  Alongside these focus group interviews we will use questionnaires to document the characteristics of the participants living with dementia and the volunteer DI-SC digital mentors. A different questionnaire will be used to collect program implementation data including recruitment and retention from the Dementia Support Coach and BNNH Coordinator.

Western Alliance is delighted to announce its inaugural Flagship Research Program, ‘The Pregnancy Research and Translation Ecosystem (PRT-E)’, a collaboration between Deakin University and health services in our region involved in pregnancy care.

The Western Alliance Flagship Research Program is a new initiative that supports a major program of research and capacity-building that will assist in solving a health problem identified as a top priority by Western Alliance member organisations.

A collaboration between 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) and Federation University, the Pregnancy Research and Translation Ecosystem (PRT-E) will receive a $200,000 grant from Western Alliance to generate and implement best evidence to improve maternal and infant health.

To achieve this, PRT-E will collect data on pregnancy care and collaborate with the GenV initiative, which aims to recruit and follow 80% of all infants born in Victoria over the coming 2 years. This data will create a world-leading and unique resource for future research.

In parallel, PRT-E will establish a Pregnancy Stakeholder Working Group of consumers and health professionals that will be trained and supported by the established systems of Deakin University’s Institute of Health Transformation.

The Working Group will then co-design and co-produce the research program. A starting priority is to design a clinical trial and translation plan with the aim of safely reducing the caesarean section rate in the region, which has risen to around 40%. It is a complex problem requiring design of a multifaceted intervention. Our congratulations to the PRT-E team.

We are pleased to announce the successful recipients of our inaugural Emerging Researcher Grant round (listed below). We would like to congratulate the investigators and mentors on their hard work and excellent submissions.

We received 29 submissions in total and recognise that there were many high-standard projects which were not allocated funding in this round. We thank all applicants for their time and dedication throughout this process, and also thank our review panel who worked diligently to reach an outcome.

We look forward to announcing further Emerging Researcher Grant rounds in 2021 and beyond.

  • Robert Beavan & Ben Spedding, South West Healthcare & Barwon Health; Asymptomatic peripheral arterial disease (PAD): A community based multidisciplinary early intervention vascular clinic – A feasibility study
  • Alicia Boyd, St John of God Warrnambool; Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA): Post-Surgical Swelling Assessment- a Feasibility Study utilising Bioimpedence Spectroscopy (BIS)
  • Jayde Cesarek, Western Victoria PHN; Covid-19 and men’s mental health in western Victoria
  • Renee Heard, Barwon Health; Implementing a Risk Feeding Policy and Education Program for Multidisciplinary Clinicians Participating in Risk Feeding Practise at Barwon Health
  • Adelene Hilbig, Barwon Health; Management of possible cervical spine injury in paediatric patients in rural and regional emergency departments in Australia: a retrospective cohort study
  • Jessica McDonald & Sarah Kelley, Barwon Health; Making the call: Improving timely access to community health physiotherapy services
  • Suzanne Rayner, Barwon Health; Exploring perception and experience of leadership amongst emergency medicine practitioners
  • Jake Romein, East Grampians Health Service; A community based modified sport program for rural community dwelling older adults: A pilot study
  • Judith Russell, Ballarat Health Services; The challenges of breastfeeding a late preterm or early term infant: women’s and clinicians’ perceptions of provision of antenatal information when considering early planned birth
  • Jessica Seater, Ballarat Health Services; Intra-infusion exercise in the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre Chemotherapy Day Unit – A pilot study
  • Elouise Simpson, South West Healthcare; Rectus abdominis vs transversus abdominis training in reducing the interrecti distance in early postpartum patients with DRAM: a randomised controlled trial
  • Hirva Thaker, Western District Health Service; Preventing pathology related errors
  • Sarah Williams, Ballarat Health Service; The role of relapse prevention plans for mental health consumers in reducing acute inpatient admissions

Western Alliance supported a submission from Professor Andrea Driscoll (Deakin University) and her team, with a $20k contribution for their NHMRC partnership grant. The project, which involves partnership from Western Alliance member health services, has been successful in attracting $1.5m in funding. Congratulations to Andrea and the team! Project title: ‘I-HEART – Implementation of Heart failure guidelines in Regional Australia’

Project overview: Heart failure (HF) is a common disease of the heart with a high rehospitalisation and mortality rate. Regional HF patients rarely receive the full benefits of evidence-based care simply due to inaccessibility to a HF specialist team.

This translational project will implement key recommendations from clinical guidelines in regional health services and improve access to specialist services. It has the potential to keep patients out of hospital and save lives.