RFW Research Unit – Research Australia magazine article

Improving Developmental Health Outcomes For Rural and Remote Kids:

Royal Far West, working with the University of Sydney, NHMRC, and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s Centre for Community Child Health, has delivered research findings which are contributing to improved service models, en extended reach, better health outcomes for rural and remote children, and a strong platform for advocacy and policy change.

Research Australia, the peak body described as “the voice of Australia’s health and medical research sector” is the national alliance representing the entire health and medical research pipeline, from the laboratory to patient and the marketplace. Research Australia works to position Australian health and medical research (HMR) as a significant driver of a healthy population and a healthy economy. It is the trusted, unifying platform for the health and medical research sector’s collective voice to ensure health and medical research is a significantly higher national priority.

So RFW is rightly proud to have its dedicated research unit featured in the June Research Australia INSPIRE magazine. With a focus on collaborative research projects, our Research Unit is helping to propel our 94 year old charity into the forefront of digital health and telecare, and tell the story of how RFW’s  long history belies a thoroughly modern, evidence-based approach to service delivery, capacity building and advocacy.  Read the full article here.

Research initiatives are now a strategic priority at RFW, with the internal team working closely with funding, academic and other research partners. This includes partnership on a five year NHMRC funded research project that was led by Professor Mark Dadds through the Child Behaviour Research Clinic at the University of Sydney. This research focused on a randomised control trial of Access EI, an early intervention program for Conduct Disorders adapted for on-line delivery, compared to in-person delivery.

More recently RFW has partnered on a Realist evaluation of Telecare (Telehanced: Best evidence to best practice: Improving access to care with enhanced telecare for children in rural NSW) under a two year NHMRC funded Translating Research into Practice (TRIP) fellowship. Led by Associate Professor Alexandra Martiniuk from the University of Sydney who has been embedded at RFW for the duration of this fellowship, and says “I cannot overstate the value of having research so closely tied with real life, especially in the digital health space where things are changing so rapidly that researchers need to be there on the frontlines to capture the innovations as they come and feed them back to the world to help support embedding and sustainability.”

In 2016, recognising a gap in child development indicators for rural and remote areas beyond the Australian Early Childhood Development Census (AEDC), a RFW partnership with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s Centre for Community Child Health was formed. This resulted in the publication of the Invisible Children Report into the state of country children’s health and development in Australia. This report has since informed RFW advocacy and their 2018 Federal pre-budget submission. Buoyed by the response to this research and the impact it has had on decision makes, policymakers and funders, RFW has strengthened their Research program and links to industry, population and clinical research and evaluation. Research-informed service design and delivery, as well as policy and advocacy priorities for system-wide change, are now a fundamental part of how RFW does business.

This body of work has led to a 2017 partnership with Charles Sturt University (CSU), commencing with a 12-month research and development project that will build a business case for a Paediatric Telecare Service. A separate partnership with Southern LHD NSW is being funded by the NSW Health Translational Research Grants Scheme, to be implemented in partnership with both Southern and Murrumbidgee LHDs. The program aims to understand how and under what circumstances early intervention for Conduct Disorders via telehealth can work for rural and remote school who would otherwise not receive this intervention.