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Media Release

April 12 2007

Centre to improve life in rural and regional Australia

New UniSA regional and rural research centre opens in WhyallaA major new research centre focusing on issues affecting rural and Indigenous Australians officially opens in Whyalla tomorrow.

UniSA’s Centre for Rural Health and Community Development (CRHaCD) will boast a team of 30 researchers working in three main areas - sustainable communities and livelihoods in rural and remote places, health and wellbeing in rural and remote communities, and Indigenous health.

CRHaCD Director Professor Brian Cheers says the new Centre represents a milestone in multidisciplinary rural research.

“People living in rural and Indigenous communities across Australia have a dedicated research centre looking at ways to improve both their physical and social wellbeing and to support their communities,” Prof Cheers says.

“Until now, rural health and community development have usually been seen in isolation. CRHaCD brings research in these areas under one roof by combining health expertise with knowledge from rural and community sociology to develop improved and more effective policies and ways to deliver services, and support communities.

“The Centre’s research supports the development of strong, healthy, and well-functioning communities.”

CRHaCD brings together the expertise of the University’s Centre for Regional Engagement (CRE) and the Spencer Gulf Rural Health School (SGRHS). The University of Adelaide is also involved in the Centre through the SGRHS, which is a joint initiative of both universities.

“With the co-location of CRE and SGRHS researchers and with a number of overlapping research interests and joint research taking place, it made sense for the formation of a recognised research Centre,” Prof Cheers says.

Vice Chancellor Emeritus Professor Denise Bradley AO, who will open the Centre, says CRHaCD reflects UniSA’s engagement with regional SA and rural issues.

“The Centre is a key component of the University’s regional research engagement,” Prof Bradley says, “and expresses UniSA’s commitment to collaborating with rural communities, Indigenous people, government and industry to improve the wellbeing of those who live in regional SA.”

Established last year, CRHaCD already has a number of flagship research projects underway including contributing research expertise to the development of a community capacity assessment tool by Primary Industries and Resources SA, early childhood parenting intervention, , improving metabolic fitness in community settings, community participation in health development, rural social care practice, and chronic illness and maternal and antenatal health in Indigenous communities.

CRHaCD researchers are working with their UniSA counterparts in the Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies, the Centre for Metabolic Fitness, the Centre for Regulation and Market Analysis, the Division of Health Sciences and other areas, as well as with government, industry, and community partners.

The Centre has gotten off to a good start, having already won a number of major research consultancies, competitive grants and other projects.

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