Some of the most respected health practitioners and researchers in Western Australia (WA) have joined forces to create a unique alliance that is set to benefit regional communities and the country health workforce alike.
The WA Country Health Service and Curtin University Research and Innovation Alliance is a brand new partnership that brings together leading professionals from Curtin University’s research community and healthcare practitioners who have dedicated their careers to improving health outcomes in regional WA.
In addition to establishing a ground-breaking research program, the new alliance will develop innovative and evidence-based training for the next generation of country health workers.
Launched in November 2021, it is the culmination of years of robust discussion between Curtin University senior research academics and WA Country Health Service (WACHS) leaders around how a country health service and a metropolitan university can leverage exciting research innovations for country communities.
With a geographical spread of more than 2.5 million square kilometres and responsibilities including emergency and surgical services, mental health, residential aged care, child health and Aboriginal health, WACHS must respond to diverse health needs in a variety of settings – from highly urbanised, resource-rich towns to some of the most remote communities in the world.
Working with the best and brightest researchers at Curtin University is already reaping benefits for vulnerable cohorts and the country health workforce.
Important research is already well underway, including a project to help better identify and manage chronic kidney disease: a condition that affects people living in rural and remote areas at almost twice the rate, and Aboriginal Australians at more than four times the rate, of city dwellers.
The new alliance is also working to quickly upskill frontline workers who deliver telehealth services, the demand for which has significantly increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To further cement the partnership, the WACHS Research and Innovation team will relocate to Curtin University’s new Exchange precinct later this year – the university’s first dedicated industry-connected innovation site.
WACHS Chief Executive Jeff Moffet said the alliance was another step forward in providing care closer to home for country communities.
‘We know what’s important to country patients: providing excellent care closer to where they live,’ Mr Moffet said.
‘That’s why we’re embracing innovation by collaborating with our partners to optimise technologies to better meet the needs of our consumers.
‘Working alongside our Curtin colleagues, WACHS staff will have easy access to data analytics capability and innovative new technologies including virtual reality and artificial intelligence expertise – tools that will better enable our research to address the unique healthcare needs of regional Western Australians.’
The new health service and university collaboration will also work with national and international stakeholders on specific projects and hopes to welcome new partners in coming months, to work together for better regional and remote health care.
Curtin University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Harlene Hayne CNZM ONZM, said the WACHS–Curtin Alliance was built on the premise that no one should be disadvantaged based on where they live.
‘The alliance will also foster innovative research to deliver tangible health outcomes for a wide range of conditions, whether that be advancements in prevention, treatment or cure,’ Professor Hayne said.
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