Collaborative Research Network (CRN)

Element Two

Regional Social and Educational Connectedness and Health Innovation

This element investigates and contributes to regional “well-being” by addressing social, educational and health aspects with emphasis on youth connectedness and engagement, and rural worker health.


In recent years the Australian Government has invested significantly in infrastructure to support educational and health-related service delivery, training and research in health, well-being and medical biotechnological innovation in our region including a new $60 million regional medical school (at DU, Geelong); a $50 million infrastructure upgrade for cancer treatment at the Ballarat Health Services; a new biotechnology research facility (at DU); a new National Centre for Farmer Health (at DU); and new medical clinical schools for DU and UoM in Ballarat. These new facilities and centres complement a number of existing research facilities including, for example, the Ballarat Cancer Research Centre (BCRC), an affiliated institution to FedUni, and numerous health care providers, services and agencies, some of which are co-located within the Ballarat Technology Park. These facilities are supported and operated independently, limiting and constraining collaboration and innovation and producing unsustainable inequalities. Through the CRN program, increased access will facilitate FedUni and collaborating partner researchers to translate research into real-world applications using the entire Western region of Victoria as a test bed.

Regional Social and Educational Connectedness and Health Innovation will focus on the causes, impacts of, and solutions to, social and educational disconnectedness, especially among young people, and their associated poor health outcomes in regional communities. A novel approach will include institutional ethnographic case study analyses and the development of capability sets and the application of a range of epidemiological tools to research the causes of poor regional social connectedness and population health. The research will integrate with major youth and eHealth research currently being conducted at UoM, together with research into farmer health at DU.  Findings will be applied in the development of improvements in delivery of education and health services in disadvantaged communities with high levels of disconnectedness and disengagement. Acceptance and adoption of new approaches to education, technology and health care strategies in rural and regional Australia will be part of this line of investigation.

FedUni will achieve increased research capacity through access to the extensive expertise of UoM’s internationally acclaimed Youth Research Centre (Director, Professor Johanna Wyn); extensive infrastructure such as genetic screening equipment; significant population health data; and heart and diabetes research data held by collaborating institutions. In turn, FedUni offers our collaborating partners access to: significant internationally-recognised and applauded capability in youth engagement and connectedness expertise; a cadre of enthusiastic, well credentialed and highly motivated early career researchers in youth-related areas; regional health services delivery knowledge; health informatics researchers and practitioners; and access to regional data sets (including heart and diabetes data for regional Australia).