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Achievements and Announcements

Primary health care award for Whyalla researcher

Gary Misan in his shed.Research into the value of men’s sheds improving the social and emotional wellbeing of men in rural areas has earned UniSA’s Associate Professor Gary Misan (pictured right) first prize at a recently held conference.

Prof Misan’s work was one of 25 papers presented in September at the Primary Health Care Research Education and Development Conference held in Adelaide.

“It was a surprising acknowledgement from my peers of the significance of identifying grassroots opportunities to influence health outcomes,” he said. “It also acknowledged the growing recognition of older rural men as a group at significant risk of poor health outcomes, and for which a range of opportunities need to be explored to engage such men with the health system.

“The win has motivated me to publish these findings and to expand work in the area of men’s health in association with groups such as the SA Men’s Shed Association and the Australian Institute of Male Health and Studies, with a stronger focus on psychosocial factors that influence men’s health.

“The conference gave me a good overview of the type of primary health care research that is being undertaken. A number of papers, including mine, also considered how researchers, services and communities could influence the more fundamental determinants of health in addition to the more common activities such as prevention, early detection and treatment of chronic disease.”

Prof Misan is based at the Centre for Rural Health and Community Development in Whyalla and is himself a keen woodworker with his own well-equipped workshop. He said his recent research has focused on SA sheds, which were among the first to be established in Australia.

His research, which canvassed more than 140 people in seven communities, has demonstrated that community men’s sheds not only directly benefit the men who participate, but that they have spin-off benefits for their partners and families and for a range of other community groups and organisations.

“There are an estimated 400 sheds currently in operation throughout Australia that come in different shapes and sizes, with different governance, management, operational and finance structures,” Prof Misan said.

“Despite these differences, they have one thing in common: they are a safe space for men, where men can socialise, make things, fix things, learn new skills, share life’s experiences and support each other.”

The benefits of community men’s sheds were recently recognised in the Australian Government’s National Male Health Policy released in 2010 which includes financial support for a national men’s shed network as well as small grants for individual sheds.

Adelaide PARK(ing) Day award

The PARK(ing) Day installation.A global event that has grown to include more than 500 installations in 100 cities made its way to Adelaide last month and a UniSA team used the event to get their message across, winning an award in the process.

PhD student Peter Lekkas from the Social Epidemiology and Evaluation Research Group and Dr Julie Collins from the School of Art, Architecture and Design, won the President’s Choice Award at Adelaide’s PARK(ing) Day for their installation (pictured right).

Peter says PARK(ing) Day is based on the idea that paying a parking meter is like renting a public space, and instead of parking a car, why not park something else?

“When we (the Social Epidemiology and Evaluation Research Group) found out about PARK(ing) Day, we felt there were synergies between its intent and the work of our group,” Peter said.

“A central focus of the work conducted by our group concerns the relationship between the spaces and places within which people live, work and play, and population-level health and wellbeing.”

Their winning installation involved using mannequins as pedestrians to promote walking.

The PARK(ing) Day installation.“We felt that an active, ‘live’ city is one which engages, embraces and advocates on behalf of the pedestrian,” Peter said. “To this end we wanted to ‘emplace’ the pedestrian within the city through the promotion of walking as a multi-faceted practice.

“In particular, we wanted to promote walking as a practice that positively enhances health and wellbeing. We wanted to draw attention to the manner in which walking is both influenced by, and influences the structure and operation of a city.”

Peter said while being awarded the President’s Choice Award was satisfying, the involvement in PARK(ing) Day was about the opportunity to creatively engage and interact with the public, design professionals and members of council on an issue which they are passionate about - pedestrians and their role in the city.

35th anniversary for Magill children’s centre

The Magill Campus and Community Children’s Centre Inc.The Magill Campus and Community Children’s Centre Inc is celebrating its 35th anniversary on November 5 with an open reunion.

Centre Director, Penny Thompson, is inviting all families and friends of the centre to revisit and reconnect with old friends.

“The Centre, along with the child care sector, has seen many changes over the past 35 years and we have successfully managed the changing needs of families to ensure the delivery of a high quality educational and care service to children,” Thompson said.

“We have always focused on the need to build and develop strong, positive relationships with a shared approach, valuing the importance of communication and constructive, meaningful interactions with families and their children.”

The Centre currently has more than 120 families using the service on a regular weekly basis.

The November 5 reunion will take place at the Centre (14-16 Bundey St) from 11am to 3pm.

Hawke Library exhibition highlights parliamentary agent of change

(L-R) Chris Hurford (former Federal Member for Adelaide); former Prime Minister Bob Hawke; Rosemary Crowley (former ALP Senator for South Australia); Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Høj.(L-R) Chris Hurford (former Federal Member for Adelaide); former Prime Minister Bob Hawke;
Rosemary Crowley (former ALP Senator for South Australia); Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Høj.

The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library hosted a reunion of figures from the Hawke Government last month at a celebration for a new exhibition at the Library.

The former Prime Minister was on hand to see the exhibition - Chris Hurford: Member for Adelaide, Agent for Change. The exhibition features personal papers, photographs and material from the archival collection of Chris Hurford AO, who was Minister for Housing and Construction in the first Hawke Ministry, and later Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs before becoming Minister for Community Services.

The pair were joined by former South Australian Senator Rosemary Crowley, who was Minister for Family Services and later Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women.

UniSA student in 3-Minute Thesis final

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences PhD student Shervi Lie.Congratulations to School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences PhD student Shervi Lie (pictured right), who made it to the final 11 in the Australia New Zealand 3-Minute Thesis competition held at the University of Western Australia last month.

Shervi Lie competed for UniSA alongside representatives of 42 other universities from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, distilling her research – on the effects of under-nutrition in women, either side of conception – into just three minutes.

She made it through her semi-final, against strong competition, then competed in the final against the eventual winner, Matthew Thompson from the University of Queensland, who won for his presentation “Suspects, Science and CSI”.

This means that UQ now wins the right to host next year’s competition.

Click here to see a video of Shervi Lie’s final presentation.

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