Women’s Health Research Alliance WA (WHRL)
Funded by the National Women’s Health Research, Translation and Impact Network (WHRTN), Women’s Health Research Alliance WA (WHRL) was established with the aim to leverage and strengthen large-scale national collaborative efforts to improve women’s health and deliver research, translation and impact in agreed priority areas.
The priority health areas align with the current National Women’s Health Strategy and include a focus on preconception, pregnancy, postpartum and intrapartum health, reproductive health, sexual health, healthy lifestyle, nutrition, obesity prevention, violence and abuse prevention and recovery, Indigenous health, mental health, chronic disease prevention, and healthy ageing. Input from stakeholders will be a key component at all levels, with opportunities for small seed funding as well as national collaborative projects. We welcome the involvement of all people in WA with an interest in women’s health research.
The Women’s Health Research Alliance WA (WHRL) is committed to
- leveraging and strengthening large scale national collaborative effort to improve women’s health
- partnering, engaging, training and empowering women in priority setting, research and translation
- building capacity in women researchers across under-represented groups, diverse disciplines and Indigenous researchers
- delivering research, translation and impact in agreed priority areas.
The Western Australian Health Translation Network (WAHTN) in partnership with the Women’s Health Research Translation and Impact Network (WHRTN) has proudly launched the Women’s Health Research Alliance WA (WHRL).
Women researchers and women’s health researchers came together for the sold out launch event on the 13th of September 2022 at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, University of Western Australia (UWA). The event featured a welcome by WAHTN’s new Executive Director, Professor Ian Everall, followed by introductions to WHRL leads Dr Jacqueline Frayne and Associate Professor Jennifer Stone. The key note speaker was Professor Anna Nowak, acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at UWA. Anna is a medical oncologist and clinician scientist who gave an inspirational speech titled “Fall seven times, and get up eight – research, resilience, and the power of purpose”.
The WHRTN Early and Mid-Career Researcher Awardees, Associate Professor Georgia Halkett and Dr Anne-Marie Eades, and the WHRTN Emerging Leaders Fellowship Awardee, Associate Professor Ravani Duggan, gave the audience an insight into the experiences their awards opened up for them.
A networking event followed the formal presentations, giving the attendees a chance to meet new people, forge new relationships and chat to Anna, Ian, Jennifer and Jacquie.
The Network welcomes the involvement of all people in WA with an interest in women’s health research. Sign up to be part of the network or to stay up to date with WHRL’s latest activities.
Dr Jacqueline Frayne
Jacqueline Frayne is a general practitioner and academic at the University of Western Australia. Her work is diverse with an interest in all areas of women’s health across the lifespan. “This network represents a great opportunity for a collaborative approach, including consumers, to research for women and girls nationally. My research interests include pregnancy care, chronic disease and mental health, with an emphasis on severe mental illnesses, chronic diseases including endometriosis, hypertension, diabetes and breast cancer and lifestyle risk reduction. As a general practitioner, I believe that aspects of women’s health research are lacking in the primary health care space particularly. Many research projects could benefit from having a more diverse and collaborative research team leading to stronger translational impact.”
“As an early career researcher, I understand that research career advancement can be challenging for many women, and this is even more so during our current COVID pandemic. Workplace interruptions can be hard, especially for clinicians. One of the Networks aims is to build a workforce development mentoring and leadership strategy for early and mid-career researchers in order to increase research and translation capacity.”
Associate Professor Jennifer Stone
A/Prof Jennifer Stone is a cancer epidemiologist/biostatistician and a prominent international and national expert in breast cancer screening, particularly breast density research. As a National Breast Cancer Foundation-funded Principal Research Fellow, her research aims to improve breast cancer screening by accumulating translatable evidence for the clinical use of risk factors, like breast density and body mass index, to improve screening outcomes. “I believe significant change is needed to provide better healthcare for women. Research that incorporates women’s lived experience in the co-design and evaluation of innovative health solutions will drive and support more tailored approaches to improve women’s health.”
“I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had excellent mentors and collaborators to support my research and career over that past 20 years. This Network will provide similar opportunities for the upcoming generations of leading female researchers and high-impact women’s health research.”
The AHRA Women’s Health Research Translation and Impact Network (WHRTN) has offered Early and Mid-Career Researcher Funded Awards, comprising one-off 12-month financial support to facilitate career advancement and development in women in early and mid-career stages of their research careers.
This support is designed to advance the career development of women working across the breadth of women’s health research and build capacity in women researchers across underrepresented groups, diverse disciplines and Indigenous research.
In 2021 the award provided up to $15,000 to 36 individuals – three of which were from Western Australia.
Dr Kristie Harper
Dr Kristie Harper is an early career researcher and an occupational therapist with over 20 years of clinical experience. Dr Harper works in the Emergency Department (ED) at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and holds a conjoint research position with Curtin University, School of Allied Health. Older adults often present to ED with complications of frailty including falls, delirium and deconditioning. Many of these patients are discharged home making the ED an important point of care contact for patients. Frailty is not only common but is preventable. Progression of frailty can be delayed through interventions including exercise, protein and Vitamin D supplements, and de-prescription of medications.
The WHRTN Early and Mid-Career Researcher Funded Award has supported further research to determine the feasibility and benefit of implementing an evidence-based frailty intervention (FIT), delivered to female older adults (>70 years) with mild frailty attending the ED and discharged home. This award has been essential for us to better engage with older women to ensure our services are better shaped around their needs and preferences. To date 1,300 patients have been reviewed in the ED and the frailty interventions provided for 170 older women have been further explored. Qualitative interviews have occurred with 60 women and staff engaged in service provision. All findings are currently being reviewed and will ensure the delivery of future frailty interventions in the ED that are evidence-based and consumer driven. The award is an exciting opportunity for early career researchers to deliver research outcomes impacting on women’s health.
Associate Professor Georgia Halkett
Associate Professor Georgia Halkett is a Senior Research Fellow, in the Curtin School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences at Curtin University. Georgia currently holds a Cancer Council of WA Research Fellowship. Associate Professor Halkett completed her PhD in December 2005 at the University of South Australia. Prior to completing her PhD she worked as a radiation therapist. Associate Professor Halkett has been successful in attracting NHMRC, NBCF, EORTC, Cancer Australia, and Cancer Council Funding. She has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and is currently supervising seven PhD students.
Georgia’s program of research focuses on addressing the psychosocial and information needs of patients diagnosed with cancer and their carers, improving communication between health professionals and patients diagnosed with cancer and research in radiation therapy.
For the current project in radiation therapy, Georgia’s goal is to develop and implement education and support interventions that reduce patient anxiety and distress prior to receiving radiation therapy. Georgia’s team has developed an RT-Prepare Intervention consisting of face-to-face patient education delivered by radiation therapists before treatment which reduced anxiety and provided other benefits to women with breast cancer.
Building on this work, this project will develop online communication skills training for radiation therapists nationally and pilot its delivery to assist radiation therapists in reducing patient anxiety.
Associate Professor Halkett applied for the mid-career researcher fellowship following her third period of parental leave. The award has assisted in providing start-up funding to enable Georgia to develop and pilot online communication skills training for radiation therapists nationally. Georgia also notes that this award will enable her to advance her career and increase the visibility and value of the research she is conducting which will ultimately lead to improved radiotherapy education and support for people diagnosed with cancer. Georgia states “Through this opportunity I am looking forward to re-establishing my research career and further developing links with the Western Australian Health Translation Network (WAHTN) locally, as well as establishing new connections through the WHTRN program nationally.”
Dr Anne-Marie Eades
Dr Eades is a Senior Research Fellow at the Curtin School of Allied Health, Curtin University. The WHRTN Early and Mid-Career Researcher Funded Award supported a project that aimed to address some of the harms caused by the systematic removal of Aboriginal children from their mothers as part of the Stolen Generations’ policies, which continue to impact on Aboriginal families today. The project was designed to include input and direction from the Nyoongar Elders and the Perth community to co-design a larger research project to reduce the risk of infant removal for Aboriginal women with vulnerabilities during their first pregnancy. The longer-term aim of this research is to identify and implement strategies that prevent infant removal and, where possible, support reunification.
The WHRTN Emerging Leaders Fellowship offers early and mid-career researchers (EMCRs) an outstanding opportunity for leadership development and practical experience in a high-profile national leadership committee. The Fellowship provides first-hand exposure to the governance, decision-making and operations of the Women’s Health Research Translation Network. It is designed to equip EMCRs with fundamental real-life experience, networking and training opportunities to build skills for future leadership.
Ten Emerging Leaders Fellowships were granted across Australia, with one successful applicant from Western Australia.
Associate Professor Ravani Duggan
A/Prof Duggan works in the School of Nursing at Curtin University and has over 27 years’ experience in nursing and midwifery education. Having worked in South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Australia, Ravani brings considerable experience to the roles of Deputy Head of School at the Curtin School of Nursing and a research joint appointment at the Centre for Nursing Research at Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group.
A/Prof Duggan’s research focuses on the mature age workforce in nursing and midwifery which is heavily female-dominated and influenced by female health. A significant part of this research program examines the transition to menopause within the workplace for nurses and midwives. Outputs from the “Mature Age Workforce Research Program” will assist organisations to better support mature age workers, maximise their capability and engagement within the workforce and retaining these ‘knowledge workers’ into the future.
A/Prof Duggan recently commented on the Emerging Leaders Fellowship – “I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity through the Western Australian Health Translation Network (WAHTN) to nominate for the Emerging Leaders Fellowship through the Women’s Health Research, Translation & Impact Network (WHRTIN). I am one of ten Emerging Leaders Fellows (ELFs) across Australia. This inaugural fellowship is allowing me the opportunity to network beyond my current reach and gain mentorship and training to strengthen me as a researcher, build my leadership in research and assist with translating findings from my research to make real-world positive changes to the lives of women. Having exposure to national committees through the fellowship has the added benefit, apart from understanding governance and high-level decision making, of developing relationships across institutions and beyond Western Australia to find synergies with collaborators and strengthen my research initiatives and outputs. The opportunity to actively engage in WHRTIN projects will allow me to gain from the combined expertise of WHRTIN staff as well as fellow early/mid-career researchers.”