Aug 15
Help needed for more rural research funding to improve health outcomes in our rural communities
The 5th annual Western NSW Health Research Network (WHRN) conference is shaping up as the best yet, funding, resources and the future of rural health research will be discussed by key health research bodies in Orange on August 16 and 17.

The conference theme Celebrating Research Partnerships in the Bush, recognises the importance of health research in rural communities. 

The conference is being spread across three locations the University of Sydney, School of Rural Health campus and Charles Sturt University. 

There will also be three, 2018 Western NSW Health Research awards presented at the event dinner at the Greenhouse of Orange on Thursday night. 

Chair of WHRN, Associate Professor Catherine Hawke said, “Health research has a direct influence on improving health outcomes and reducing health inequalities in our rural communities.” 

“Addressing the health inequality experienced by rural and remote Australians is a stated aim of the Australian Government. While National Health and Medical Research Council funding for rural health research has increased over the past decade, at 2.4% by value, it still appears very low given the extent of the health burden faced by the 30% who live in rural Australia.

“We welcome the attendance of key research organisations who are coming to our conference to listen and talk to rural health researchers and clinicians about the importance of building research capacity in Western NSW. We will be summarising key outcomes at the end of the conference to take back to Minister Brad Hazzard and other politicians” A/Prof Hawke said.

The theme of this year’s conference is Celebrating Research Partnerships in the Bush. The two day conference will include presentations of research in progress as well as interactive research support workshops, and keynote sessions and completed research sessions. 

Some of the key issues to be discussed include, equality of health research resources in rural and metropolitan centres, clinical trials and rural medical schools. 

Research Capacity Building Manager for Western NSW Local Health District and WHRN Deputy Chair Dr Alice Munro said, “We want as many people possible to engage in next week’s conference whether it’s in person, via social media using the hashtag #WHRN18 or by livestreaming the conference on Day 2 from one of nine health facilities across Western NSW”. 

To register email srh.whrnadmin@sydney.edu.au or follow WHRN on Facebook or Twitter @WesternNSWHRN for further information about attending the conference” Alice said.

WHRN Snapshot: 

 - The Western NSW Health Research Network (WHRN) is the peak body for health research in Western NSW. The Network began in 2013 and has over 200 members. 

 - Associate Professor Catherine Hawke is the founding Chair of WHRN and also the Deputy Head of the School of Rural Health, based in Orange. Dr Alice Munro, Research Capability Building Manager for Western NSW Local Health District, is the Deputy Chair of WHRN. 

 - WHRN is a collaboration between four universities, Western NSW Local Health District Western NSW primary health network, Hospitals, community managed organisations and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs).

 - The networks aims to improve health and wellbeing and reduce the health inequalities of people living, studying and working in western NSW through research. 

 - The focus of WHRN’s activities is to: 

  • Promote and facilitate local health research
  • Provide opportunities for people interested in health research to meet, support, mentor and collaborate with each other. 
  • Support the training and education needs of local researchers
​​Each year WHRN hosts a conference to bring together health professionals and researchers to showcase innovative and rigorous rural health research.

For further media information, interviews and photographs, please contact WHRN Chair, Associate Professor Catherine Hawke on 0418 368 366.