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Curtin-led projects to address urgent community health needs in WA

Media release

A raft of health-based projects led by Curtin University have been awarded nearly $1.5 million dollars in funding by Healthway and West Australian Future Health Research and Innovation (WAFHRI) Fund in recognition of their potential to provide real-life outcomes for the community.

The successful projects include a collaborative community program to support WA Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) women experiencing domestic violence, understanding and measuring the use of e-cigarettes among young people, reducing the risks of harm for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people using illicit drugs and promoting mental health in children with language and literacy difficulties, as well as how to help people make healthier online food orders.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Chris Moran congratulated the recipients and said the funding would allow these important projects to progress to the next stage.

“I am very pleased to announce multiple projects have been successful in the most recent Healthway and WAFHRI funding announcement which acknowledges research projects that will make a real impact and difference to people’s lives,” Professor Moran said.

“These researchers have identified relevant needs and provide a solution-based focus. They also demonstrate a collaborative effort through cross-faculty, cross-university, and community partnership involvement.

“I am confident that each project will help to address growing un-met community needs that will allow more Western Australians live healthy lifestyles.”

Among the funding recipients, is lead researcher Dr Roanna Lobo, from Curtin’s School of Population Health, whose team received more than $400,000 for a project which aims to develop Aboriginal consumer-led strategies to reduce harm from illicit drug use. Preliminary findings have showcased the need for a comprehensive suite of co-designed interventions to be trialled including educational, behavioural and structural strategies.

Professor Jaya Dantas, Dean International in the Faculty of Health Sciences, and her team were awarded $385,770 for their project “SHAKTI”, a self-help and safety intervention to help women experiencing domestic violence (DV), following a surge in reported incidents since COVID-19. The project, in collaboration with Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Centre, Zonta Refuge, WA Police and Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services, focuses on CALD women, who are particularly vulnerable.

The WAFHRI funding will also allow lead researcher from Curtin School of Population Health & Telethon Kids Institute Associate Professor Nick Golding and his team to carry out a project which aims to prepare WA for any future COVID-19 outbreaks by quantifying contact networks by workplace, demography and socio-economics to prevent transmission.

Projects focussing on e-cigarette use will also be funded. Associate Professor Jonine Jancey from Curtin’s School of Population Health will lead two research studies, one aimed at preventing youth e-cigarette appeal, access and uptake and the other set to understand the influences behind e-cigarettes through the use of social media and advertising.

Promoting mental health in children with language and literacy difficulties is another project which will be funded by Healthway, led by Associate Professor Mark Boyes from Curtin’s School of Population Health. The project aims to identify risk and resilience-promoting factors associated with mental health among children with language and literacy difficulties, which has been identified as an issue for children experiencing learning difficulties, which have been identified as a growing area of need by educators and service providers.

Another funded project is helping to curb West Australian parents’ and children’s appetite for sugary drinks and is led by Dr Zenobia Talati from Curtin’s School of Population Health. This study will provide a better understanding of what motivates parents to provide, and children to consume, sugary drinks over healthier alternatives. Findings will help public health campaigns and community nutrition programs identify barriers to reducing sugary drink intake and suggest products to target in future interventions.

Lastly, Ms Liyuwork Dana from Curtin’s School of Population Health will address a gap in existing research and policy direction to provide nutrition information on food ordered online such as Uber eats and Deliveroo. The project aims to collect and interpret data to advocate evidence-based effective menu labelling and will inform future public health education, resources, and social marketing campaigns to encourage healthy eating and help fight obesity.

Healthway funding supports applicants to deliver positive local community initiatives, programs, research, and partnerships.

To read more about the Healthway funding click here.