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Improving health research and outcomes in regional Australia

Regional and rural-specific health research has the capacity to fundamentally improve population health outcomes Despite thisthere is an under-representation of rural and regional communities in public health research. 

 GenV is a research project that aims to address this imbalance across health and medical research by its inclusive design. All newborn babies born over the next two years, and their parents, can be a part of GenV –no matter where in Victoria they live. This invitation to take part in GenV will be extended at a local level, with families to be invited at their birthing hospital as the project scales up to statewide throughout 2021. 

GenV Senior Area Manager Jessica Bucholc, who is responsible for GenV field activities across the eastern region of Victoria including Gippsland and Hume, said a project like GenV will help to attract, train, and retain health workforce in rural and regional areas. 

“Already, we are seeing the positive impacts of local job creation in terms of GenV field staff in regional and rural areas 

GenV has led to more than 100 new jobs across Victoria including regional and growth areas of metropolitan Melbourne, often with nursing, midwifery or care allied health backgrounds. These new roles are necessary to invite parents and newborns to take part in GenV across the state’s birthing hospitals and health services at a local level,” she said 

The benefits of involving regional and rural communities in a large-scale population health research project like GenV can’t be underestimated, said Associate Professor Vincent Versace, Director of Deakin Rural Health based at the University’s Warrnambool campus. 

Currently, scale of research is a challenge for rural researchers, which then has the potential to impact population health outcomes 

“GenV will be useful due to its large scale, and as patterns emerge from the data, this will enable researchers to provide evidence and insights from specific rural communities. This in turn will build and support research capability in the regions, and ultimately assist translation into policy and into practice in rural and regional settings.

– Associate Professor Vincent Versace, Director of Deakin Rural Health

Associate Professor Versace said that the state of Victoria is well-placed to lead regional and rural health research across Australia. 

Deakin Rural Health is one of 16 University Departments of Rural Health (UDRH) around Australia supported by the Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN)Victoria is well represented, with four UDRHs based at Deakin University, Latrobe University, the University of Melbourne, and Monash University. 

“GenV has the potential to play a huge role in supporting the UDRHs to build and sustain the rural health workforce by helping underpin research programs throughout rural and remote communities in Victoria. 

In an area like south west Victoria where I am, the possibility of future health research jobs and opportunitiesenhancing clinician-led researchin addition to the wider population health benefits leading from research specific to rural communities, is very exciting,” he said.  

GenV Team
Article by GenV Team