Last updated: 19 Nov, 2019

Find out about our Impact Research Grant projects.

VicHealth is seeking Expressions of Interest (EOI) for research grant funding. EOI submissions close Monday 10 February 2020. For more information, click here.

2018 Impact Research Grant Recipients View more

Working with practitioners to reduce alcohol related harm - embedding brief interventions in Victorian general practices

Associate Professor Elizabeth Sturgiss, Monash University

  • Partners
    • North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN)
    • Health Issues Centre
    • Enliven

The research aims to increase the capacity of general practitioners to use brief interventions for alcohol. The research will be delivered in five community general practices in low-income areas and will integrate new clinical resources into the HealthPathways platform hosted by NWMPHN and Eastern Melbourne PHN.

 

Food and nutrition policies for Aboriginal Victorians: Evidence and advocates for change.

Dr Jennifer Browne, Deakin University

This project will combine participatory research and innovative systems science methods to empower Victorian Aboriginal communities to identify and prioritise community-supported population-level policies that aim to reduce consumption of junk food and increase consumption of vegetables.

  • Partners
    • VACCHO
2017 Innovation Research Grant Recipients View more

Food environment inequalities and obesity in Victorian Growth Areas, from paddock to shopping centre gate

Dr Claudia Strugnell, Deakin University

Increasingly the built environment is being considered by policy makers as a potentially efficient and cost-effective target for preventing obesity, delivered alongside traditional prevention programs or education-based intervention. This study will fill a key gap in the knowledge base regarding the food environment, and associations between the food environment, diet and obesity in an Australian context. Recent studies in Australia have examined the proximity and density of supermarkets and fast food outlets in a singular time period; neglecting to provide temporal patterns and trends and understanding of the entire community nutrition environment. The focus on Victoria’s Growth Areas (VGAs) provides a new opportunity to examine the evidence and to plan for future community developments.

 

Impact of Health Star Ratings on the Healthiness of Consumer Grocery Baskets

Dr Satheesh Seenivasan, Monash University

One of the most widely used policy tools to promote healthier diets is nutrition labelling of foods. In a first of its kind initiative, the Australian Government introduced a voluntary front-of-package Health Star Rating (HSR) system for packaged foods in June 2014. Nutrition summary indicators, such as HSR are designed to reduce consumers' information search and processing costs, and, thereby, help them identify and choose healthier products. However, the success of the HSR policy in achieving its intended outcomes has been questioned because of reasons such as it is not mandatory, it rates some 'discretionary' foods (e.g. potato chips) as relatively healthy, and it is not designed to compare products across categories (e.g. potato chips vs. cheese). Despite the policy priority granted to the HSR initiative, its effect on people's actual food choices is yet to be studied, and whether HSR has been successful in achieving its objective remains an open, important and unanswered question. 

This research will develop a comprehensive understanding of the impact of the HSR policy on the overall healthiness of consumer shopping baskets. This research will focus on actual purchase behaviour of consumers as opposed to existing studies on HSR which are based on stated purchase intentions, as well as overall consumer shopping baskets.

2016 Innovation Research Grant Recipients View more

Maintaining tobacco abstinence among people leaving smoke-free prisons in Victoria: A pilot randomised controlled trial

Dr Stuart Kinner, University of Melbourne

Smoking rates are extremely high among people cycling through Australian prisons. Prisoners experience disproportionate rates of smoking-related health which are often compounded by entrenched social and financial disadvantage. Indigenous Australians and people with mental illness are markedly over-represented in prisons and experience increased smoking-related health inequalities compared to both their community counterparts and non-Indigenous prisoners.

Correctional authorities in Australia and elsewhere are progressively implementing smoke-free policies that prohibit tobacco smoking on prison grounds for both prisoners and prison staff. However, despite good evidence that prison smoking bans reduce both smoking and exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke, research suggests that correctional smoking bans are insufficient to maintain smoking abstinence after release from prison. This research will evaluate the effects of a brief smoking cessation support intervention that proactively links people to more intensive, evidence-based cessation assistance.

 

PRomoting Incentives for healthy food Choices with retailer-led Economic interventions (PRICE study)

Dr Kathryn Backholer, Deakin University

Price is a key factor influencing what people consume and is becoming increasingly tangible as a leverage point to promote healthier food and beverage choices. It has been suggested that pricing strategies represent one of the strongest, if not the strongest, marketing factors predicting consumer food and beverage choices. Whilst is it generally accepted that price is a major driver of consumer food and beverage choices, the potential to use pricing interventions within the community retail setting to promote healthy food and beverage choices, is seldom considered.

In this project, we propose to conduct the first study, nationally and internationally, to systematically and collaboratively work with those directly involved in the food retail sector, to co-develop and evaluate a range of acceptable, feasible, effective and sustainable pricing strategies, which aim to promote consumer healthy food and beverage choices, on outcomes relevant to health and business.

 

Count Me In: Promoting participation in sport for migrant and refugee children and youth

Dr Karen Block, University of Melbourne

Refugee and CALD migrant youth have low participation rates in sport however, despite improved policies and guidelines becoming available for clubs and sports governing bodies to promote inclusivity and cultural competence. Remaining identified barriers include costs, discrimination, a lack of knowledge of mainstream sports services, lack of access to transport, culturally determined gender norms and family attitudes.

The Count Me In program was designed to address identified barriers to sports participation by CALD migrant and refugee-background young people. This participatory action research project will implement and evaluate Count Me In, a sports participation program for young people from refugee and CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) migrant backgrounds. The overall aim of the project is to promote health and wellbeing - including mental and physical health and resilience; and an increased sense of belonging, social connectedness and inclusion for these population groups.

 

readyforwhatsnext: A computer simulation model to identify optimal strategies for developing the resilience of young Victorians

Dr Matthew Hamilton, University of Melbourne (ORYGEN)

readyforwhatsnext will establish a collaborative partnership between young people, researchers and policymakers to develop and validate a computer simulation model that informs better approaches to developing the resilience of young Victorians. Computer simulation models are mathematical representations of the working of some system of interest, developed with the aid of computer software, are similar to but simpler than the systems they represent. Computer simulation models have been described as "thinking prostheses" for their ability to synthesise large amounts of information from diverse sources relating to complex systems and are increasingly used to inform health policy because of their ability to explore the potential impact of alternative policy choices and to describe the decision uncertainty relating to those choices.

 

Developing a LGBTI safe housing network to prevent homelessness and build social connection and resilience

Dr Ruth McNair, University of Melbourne

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender diverse and intersex (LGBTI) people are more likely to experience homelessness than heterosexual, cis-gendered Australians. One of the key drivers of homelessness is family rejection and conflict relating to minority sexual and gender identities and intersex status. A further driver is discrimination within the housing sector. Prevention of homelessness can be facilitated through access to stable housing that is free from discrimination for LGBTI people.

The project aims to establish, pilot and evaluate a Victorian LGBTI people safe housing network that enables LGBTI people at any age who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness (including after exiting care) to enter the stable and safe housing. The network will also help build their social connections and resilience, leading to improved mental health and wellbeing; and significantly reduce the likelihood of homelessness in the future.

2015 Innovation Research Grant Recipients View more

Using Fitbits to promote physical activity in inactive Victorian adolescents: Technological revolution or fad?

Dr Nicole Ridgers, Deakin University

Wearable activity trackers (e.g. Fitbit, Jawbone) are a modern day phenomenon. Their popularity, mass market appeal, pervasiveness, and widespread availability, combined with their decreasing cost, have resulted in these technologies becoming a part of mainstream culture. They provide a simple, functional, motivational, and low-cost opportunity for promoting physical activity to the broader population.

This will be the first project internationally to examine whether wearable activity trackers can increase physical activity levels among inactive adolescents from socioeconomically disadvantaged areas - or whether they are a technological fad.

 

STICKE Healthy Eating – Systems Thinking in Community Knowledge Exchange

Professor Steven Allender, Deakin University

STICKE is an online tool that has been developed to support collective action for systems change by collecting people's mental maps of system on line and converging these into a common system map. This software has the potential to collect information from large numbers of community members, quickly and at low cost. This funding will support the development of analytic capacity to determine similarity and points of difference between respondents and present this information in a way that is useful for the collective design of obesity prevention interventions across whole communities. It is hoped that STICKE can provide the basis to generate, synthesise and share meaningful understandings of complex drivers of disease to enable communities to create meaningful whole of system intervention and provide ongoing feedback to the ongoing implementation, evolution and evaluation of systems change.

2014 Innovation Research Grant Recipients View more

Kids as Catalyst: Evaluating a child-led social action program promoting child and youth resilience and mental wellbeing

Professor Lisa Gibbs, University of Melbourne

The aim of this project is to implement and evaluate the Kids as Catalyst program in six primary and secondary schools in two vulnerable communities-- one regional and one metropolitan area, both of which have diverse communities.

Kids as Catalyst (formerly known as In Schools Philanthropy program) focuses on building children's resilience and mental wellbeing. Kids as Catalyst is a six-month creative leadership program that inspires young students to become social catalysts in their local communities. Children discover and connect with their personal values, and learn how to conceive, design and implement real-life, social change projects to benefit their local communities. They do this by speaking with local volunteers, charities and community organisations on issues of personal interest and begin to shape a concept and potential strategies for change. The children are supported to 'pitch' their projects to community leaders for funding and support; develop budgets and manage finances; and develop and deliver community projects.

 

Creating supermarket food environments that encourage healthy eating

Dr Adrian Cameron, Deakin University

This project will provide rigorous evidence of the effectiveness and financial impact of interventions to improve the healthiness of food purchases in Australian supermarkets. The project adopts a strongly solutions-focused approach in bringing together private sector and public health groups to examine the potential impact of population nutrition interventions in the real-world supermarket setting. It builds on a strong existing collaboration between supermarkets, local government partners, and senior researchers from the internationally recognised World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University. The economic analysis that is central to the project will ensure that the results are highly relevant to groups beyond the public health community and therefore readily transferable to other settings.