CDU prepares new research centre focusing on a healthy start to life

29-Mar-2019

Dean of the College of Nursing and Midwifery, Professor Catherine Turner has bolstered the College’s research horsepower

Dean of the College of Nursing and Midwifery, Professor Catherine Turner has bolstered the College’s research horsepower


Charles Darwin University (CDU) has made several high-profile research-focussed appointments in its College of Nursing and Midwifery and will develop a new national research centre focusing on maternal and infant health and wellbeing in rural and regional areas.

College Dean, Professor Catherine Turner has bolstered the College’s research horsepower significantly since starting in the position in July last year.

“When I arrived as Dean it was evident the College had a greater focus on teaching than building research capacity as a priority,” Professor Turner said.

“That’s why I have assembled a team of the best researchers I could find, all of whom have a focus on health services and translational research – making a real difference to services people receive.

“Given CDU’s location, we are ideally placed to focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander maternity issues and assess how services on the ground can be strengthened for the best start in life,” she said.

Professor Turner said the establishment of the research centre would significantly boost the College research capacity.

“The Centre’s research strategy will focus on areas that promote a healthy start to life.

“The expertise we have in the new centre has the capacity to make a real impact across Northern Australia where some huge challenges exist in terms of babies being born too soon and too small,” she said.

Professor Turner said the Territory and CDU were ideal environments for research into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander birthing, maternal and infant health, as well as helping encourage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the midwifery profession and research careers.

“We are committed to increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander midwifery students in our undergraduate and postgraduate programs and have support through the Australian Government’s Away from Base funding,” she said. We also have the capacity to grow the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research workforce in these areas,” she said.

Background on research appointments:

Professor Sue Kildea joins CDU from the University of Queensland where she was the Director of the Midwifery Research Unit. She is internationally recognised as a midwifery leader at the cutting edge of the emerging fields of Indigenous maternal and infant health and Birthing on Country.

She has strong links with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisations and researchers across the country and has led several large health service redesign projects for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and vulnerable populations.

Professor Kildea is conducting collaborative research projects across Australia, Canada, Sweden and the UK, and has worked for World Health and other organisations in Vietnam, Indonesia and Mongolia. She leads several National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) funded projects across multiple sites.

Professor Kildea will co-direct the new centre with Associate Professor Yvette Roe, a Njikena Jawuru woman from the West Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Dr Roe has more than 20 years’ experience working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. As an Aboriginal scholar, her priority has been to identify opportunities to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by delivering and evaluating services that are client, family and community focused.

Dr Roe is leading research and building Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research capacity in multiple projects across Australia. She is a member of the NH&MRC Research Committee and the Principal Committee Indigenous Caucus.

Providing statistical and health economics support to the researchers will be Associate Professor Dr Yu Gao who completed her medical training in China with a Master of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She was chosen to conduct doctoral studies at CDU on maternal mortality in China. She has also studied Health Economics. She is currently leading the health economic evaluations on three NH&MRC projects, two of which are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health projects.

Associate Professor Donna Hartz is a descendant of the Kamilaroi people of NSW and has joined CDU in both a teaching and research role. She will lecture in undergraduate Midwifery and the postgraduate Child and Family Health courses while continuing her Birthing on Country, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander midwifery workforce research and Aboriginal Community program research. Dr Hartz, along with Professor Kildea, was one of the team who conducted the largest randomised trial of caseload midwifery internationally, published in The Lancet the results are driving maternity services reform across Australia.

The College has appointed a new Associate Dean, International, Dr Ben Tan, responsible for the development of the future international research agenda, including building a group of scholarship-funded higher degree students. The first international student arrives from China this month.

The College has also appointed a new Associate Dean, Research, Dr Sue Moore. Sue worked as a nurse in Alice Springs for more than 10 years before moving into research, including undertaking a post-doctoral fellowship at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France. Since 2014 she has been a Research Fellow at CDU’s Menzies School of Health Research, working on large scale NH&MRC and other competitively funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer and cardiac research programs.


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