Western NSW Local Health District aims to deliver world-class health care, at the right time, closer to home, to people living in Western NSW. To achieve this a vibrant rural health research culture needs to be at the heart of core business.
It is an exciting time for our District as we build research leadership and excellence across the continuum - from the research laboratory to the patient’s bedside. The challenges involved in health care service delivery in the bush create unique opportunities for health research and innovation to develop solutions appropriate to our rural context.
Building capacity for meaningful exchange and co-creation between researchers, policy makers, health managers, clinicians, patients and communities underpins all components of the strategy. This is important in helping to achieve our strategic priorities, including a strong focus on improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people living in our region.
The strategy complements a range of NSW Health initiatives and builds on their commitment to support high quality research, evaluation and translation with the overarching aim of keeping people healthy. We are committed to driving innovation, to ensure we make a real difference to the health of people living in our region. We believe this strategy will foster research translation and strategically position Western NSW Local Health District to become even more proactive in regards to research opportunities and continue to be a leader in the delivery of high quality rural health research.
Undertaking health research in our District
We encourage health research being conducted in our region. Our Research Office should be the first point of contact for researchers seeking advice and ethics approval for health-related research projects being conducted in Western NSW, including clinical trials.
Current research & opportunities
Schizophrenia causes cognitive deficits and impairs independence in daily functioning. Cognitive remediation therapy is recommended by guidelines outlined by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP), however was not available locally.
This project aimed to test the feasibility and acceptability of Computerised Interactive Remediation of Cognition and Thinking Skills (CIRCuiTS) therapy in inpatient and community contexts in Orange.
The multidisciplinary therapy team completed training from the developers of CIRCuiTS who hail from Kings College in London, and delivered 975 participant sessions to March 2018.
Data showed CIRCuiTS was an acceptable and feasible therapy, which produced significant improvements in functioning and goal attainment.
Locally, CIRCuiTS therapy has positively influenced the lives of participants with schizophrenia. It can be translated across other health services and is also likely to contribute to cost efficiencies across mental health services.
A team of our Speech pathologists are partnering with researchers from Charles Sturt University (CSU) in world-first research about waiting for speech pathology. The research aims to inform best practice and appropriate care while families wait for speech pathology services.
The project was successful in receiving NSW Health funding from the Translational Research Grants Scheme (TRGS) – Round 2. The project commenced in July, 2017 and is due for completion mid-2019.
The outcomes of this research will inform speech pathology clinical practice in NSW Health. The research is also applicable to similar services in Australia and internationally.
The research team includes Emily Davis, Katrina Rohr and Angela Roberts (Bathurst Community Health Centre); Katherine Miller and Sally Thornton (Dubbo Primary, Community and Allied Health); and Professor Sharynne McLeod and PhD candidate Nicole McGill (CSU).
The partner organisations involved in the research are Western NSW Local Health District, Charles Sturt University, NSW Health, NSW Children’s Hospital Network, Speech Pathology Australia, and the International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children’s Speech.
The Central West Clinical Trials Unit (CTU), based at Orange Health Service is a community-led, grassroots approach that aimed to fill a significant gap in access to innovative cancer clinical trials in the bush. Community-based organisations and charities, such as Cancer Care Western NSW, provided substantial seed funding and support for the CTU, which was formally established in 2016. In the last three years, the CTU has developed rapidly. To date, it has 18 trials currently active and 17 trials in the feasibility stage.
Click here for more information.
There are also a number of current research opportunities and grants available for our staff to access.
Current research opportunities:
- HETI Rural Research Capacity Building Program
- CEC Clinical Leadership Program
- Sax Institute Research Action Awards
- NSW Health Translational Research Grant Scheme
The Translational Research Grants Scheme (TRGS) funds research projects that will translate into better patient outcomes, health service delivery, and population health and wellbeing. Grants ranging from $50,000 to $1 million will be provided to successful applicants for projects of one to two years’ duration. While TRGS research projects must be led by one of our employees, partnerships with other research organisations such as universities and medical research institutes are strongly encouraged.
For more information visit the
TRGS pages on the NSW Health website or contact our Research Manager,
Dr Alice Munro.
Health Research Conferences
19th June 2019, Dubbo NSW
The 6th Western NSW Health Research Symposium in partnership with the Western NSW Health Research Network (WHRN) will be hosted in Dubbo. Abstracts will open in March and close in April. More details to follow.
24th – 27th March 2019, Hobart TAS
Every second year for the past 30 years the National Rural Health Conference has brought people together to learn, listen and share ideas about how to improve health outcomes in rural and remote Australia, earning the reputation of Australia's premier rural health event.
For more information visit the
National Rural Health Alliance website.
Greater Western Human Research Ethics Committee (GWHREC)
The Greater Western Human Research Ethics Committee is constituted and operates in accordance with the
National Health and Medical Research Council’s National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 and has been accredited by the NSW Ministry of Health as a lead committee to provide the single ethical and scientific review of research proposals within the NSW public health system.
GWHREC oversees all research ethics for Far West LHD and Western NSW LHD, and also has Service Level Agreements with Murrumbidgee LHD and Southern NSW LHD.
Each research project is reviewed by a Human Research Ethics Committee who considers whether it is scientifically and ethically sound to proceed.
Download the GWHREC Guide for Researchers for more information about how to obtain ethics approval and conduct research in Western NSW.
The Committee meets on the first Wednesday of each month, except for January. There is also a sub-committee which meets in between full committee meetings to review Low or Negligible Risk (LNR) research proposals. In 2017/18, the average length of time for a full ethics review was 35 days and for an LNR review 19 days.
For details of upcoming meeting dates, download the Schedule of Meeting Dates.
For all GWHREC ethics and governance queries, phone (02) 6330 5948 or e-mail
Complaints about the conduct of an approved research project or the conduct of the Human Research Ethics Committee are governed by standard operating procedure SOP 037 and SOP 038 in the Greater Western Human Research Ethics Committee Operations Manual. These procedures are publicly available by contacting the GWHREC at the email address above.
Complaints about the conduct of the Human Research Ethics Committee may be submitted to: The Chief Executive, PO Box 4061, Dubbo NSW 2830. Phone: 02 6809 8600
Our partnership with the Western NSW Health Research Network (WHRN)
In April 2018, we signed a three year agreement with the Western NSW Health Research Network (WHRN), to drive innovation in health research across our Health District.
Formed in 2013, WHRN is the peak body for health research in Western NSW and now has over 250 members. The Network 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 network 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.
For more information about WHRN please
sign up to their newsletter here.
WHRN Research Appreciation Groups
Are you interested in dipping your toe into research, but not sure where to start? Monthly Research Appreciation Groups are for you!
The Western NSW Health Research Network host monthly Research Appreciation Groups in Dubbo, Bathurst and Orange. Virtual Research Interest Groups will be commencing in March 2019. These groups aim to bring together local clinicians and novice health researchers with academics in each region.
- Aboriginal Research Interest Group (ARIG) – contact
Dr Georgina Luscombe, Senior Lecturer in Medical Statistics , University of Sydney’s School of Rural Health, Orange Campus for more information or download the 2020 list of meeting dates here.
Dubbo Research Interest Group (DRIG) – contact
Dr Emma Webster, Senior Lecturer, Rural Health, University of Sydney’s School of Rural Health, Dubbo Campus for more information or download the 2020 list of meeting dates here.
Bathurst Research Appreciation Group (BRAG) – contact
Dr Jannine Bailey, Senior Lecturer Rural Health & Research, Western Sydney University’s Bathurst Rural Clinical School for more information.
- Virtual Research Interest Groups (VRIG) – contact Dr Alice Munro, Research Manager for WNSWLHD for more information or download the 2020 list of meeting dates here.