December 8 2022
By The Ian Potter Foundation
In the most recent funding round (Round 3 2022), $4,876,463 in grants were awarded, of which $1,626,463 will be paid this financial year. These included $3 million across five multi-year Public Health Research grants and one capacity-building grant to the Australian Environmental Grantmarkers Network (AEGN).
In the Vibrant pillar, $226,463 was awarded to The Ian Potter Cultural Trust for emerging artist grants and the TarraWarra Museum of Art was awarded $50,000 to assist with the development of art education programs.
Kids First (previously Children's Protection Society Inc)
Early Years Education Program – Universal Kindergarten Model Evaluation & Implementation*
$750,000 over 5 years
This grant supports Kids First to implement and evaluate an adapted version of their evidence-based Early Years Education Program (EYEP). The Early Years Education Program – Kindergarten Model takes the most powerful and practical components of the EYEP and applies them to a universal Kindergarten model for all Australian children using a preventative approach. The EYEP- Kindergarten Model is based on a trauma-informed, relational pedagogy approach coupled with the provision of support and capacity-building activities for families. The purpose of the model is to support children and their families to grow and develop positively from the early years and beyond.
Kids First are currently piloting the model at its centres in Victoria and have partnered with Murdoch Children’s Research Institute to evaluate the model’s replicability and impact. The Ian Potter Foundation funding will support the employment of a Program Impact & Fidelity Manager. This role will work alongside the implementation and evaluation phases, documenting the model in its entirety and leading the development of digital resources and training packages to support its adaptation in other early years centres.
Transforming Obesity Prevention for CHILDren: A decision aid for public health policy makers (TOPCHILD-Policy)
$600,000 over 5 years
This grant supports a translational research project that builds on several years of research by the investigator team who established and lead the TOPCHILD Collaboration, a global network of obesity prevention researchers with a vision to transform the thinking and practices around early childhood obesity prevention.
Childhood obesity has been a key public health priority in recent decades, and yet community rates of childhood overweight have remained stagnant for the last ten years. Whilst research demonstrates the efficacy of early childhood obesity prevention, few trials make it through the 17+year research pathway from development, to policy, and practice impact.
The investigator team at Flinders University, led by Professor Rebecca Golley, proposes to develop, through codesign and in partnership with end users, a decision support tool to enable policymakers to select intervention strategies that will deliver effective obesity prevention in early childhood, with tailoring to specific contexts and circumstances.
The researcher team will partner with policymakers, service providers and caregivers to co-design a digital platform that meets the needs of policymakers and can aid decision-making with an iterative process of user testing and refinement. The tool will also provide intervention costing – a key piece of information requested by policy decision-makers.
Policymakers and service providers across the public health system will use this tool to inform effective obesity prevention programs and initiatives to reduce the incidence and prevalence of overweight and obesity in the first 2000 days of life, with lasting impact into both childhood and later adult life.
Creating a world-standard enriched older-adult cohort to inform mental health and substance use disorder prevention
$600,000 over 5 years
This project will develop an enriched cohort of older (60+) Australians to examine risks and trajectories for developing anxiety, depression and substance use disorders during high-risk transition periods.
Australians in this age group experience unique risks for developing anxiety, depression and substance use disorders compared to other cohorts. These arise from the intersection of age-related factors that can cause or exacerbate risk, including:
To better understand these modifiable factors and how they interact to inform prevention work, the research team at Monash University, led by Professor Suzanne Nielson, will address the knowledge gap by forming and following a sentinel cohort of older adults likely to undergo high-risk transitions to better understand anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders during these periods. The study leverages linked population data (state hospital, Medicare and pharmaceutical data) through the National Centre for Healthy Ageing’s dedicated Data Platform, and the data resource will be made available to external users for research through the University’s Secure eResearch Platform.
Results will provide critical new knowledge of risk factors during key life transitions (e.g. retirement), and provide an already recruited cohort for the efficient conduct of intervention studies to address identified modifiable risk factors.
Little Ears – Aboriginal Programs for Hearing and EAR screening programs (LEAP – HEAR)
$600,000 over 5 years
HEAR (Hearing, Education, Application, Research) is a Macquarie University Research Centre established in January 2017 to address major global and public health challenges in hearing health.
Middle ear disease (otitis media, OM) in Aboriginal children is highly prevalent – 3 times that of non-Indigenous children – occurs earlier and lasts longer than non-Indigenous children, disrupting critical periods of literacy and language development. Whilst some Australian states and territories deliver comprehensive prevention focussed ear and hearing health programs, there is no such equivalent in NSW since a change in policy in 2012, which saw the discontinuation of the Otitis Media Screening Program, in favour of a surveillance approach. The result is that there has since been no coordinated effort to address OM and hearing loss in Aboriginal children in NSW and no sustainable funding streams to support the field.
This grant supports a well-conceived and ambitious program of research led by Professor Catherine McMahon and the HEAR team aiming to address key gaps in the service system for Aboriginal children in NSW experiencing OM and hearing loss. The research team will work in partnership with the Aboriginal-controlled sector, building (and evaluating) their capacity to deliver these services for their communities. The project also incorporates a range of implementation research activities with the aim to establish an effective and scalable model for national roll-out.
University of Sydney, Charles Perkins Centre
Co-production of multi-sectoral chronic disease prevention strategies: A ‘whole-of-system’ evidence-based approach for decision-making
$600,000 over 5 years
The University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre (CPC) is a multidisciplinary centre within the University of Sydney focusing on research, education, and clinical care.
Chronic disease affects millions of Australians and costs billions of dollars. Most chronic diseases are either directly or indirectly related to lifestyle risk factors such as smoking, excessive drinking, poor diet, and physical inactivity. These behaviours are embedded in Australian social, structural, economic, and policy environments. Despite ongoing investments and research productivity, risk factors, such as physical inactivity and obesity, remain persistent problems, particularly in vulnerable socio-economic subgroups.
To address these issues, Associate Professor Melody Ding and collaborators will undertake a program of research that applies systems science approaches to address chronic diseases. Building on existing interdisciplinary and multisector partnerships, the research team will engage stakeholders from health and non-health sectors to co-develop a translational decision support tool that can be used by policymakers to improve decision-making with benefits for public health. It will approach chronic disease prevention at systems and policy levels, aligning evidence output with the needs of decision-makers and other stakeholders. The study aims to improve ‘systems literacy’, build partnerships and reduce ‘silos’, enhancing the ability to work across sectors, galvanising broad base support for disease prevention, and supporting evidence-based decision making.
By using a participatory process, this project aims to address the ‘root causes of chronic disease burden in the country while delivering social, environmental, and economic ‘co-benefits’ for Australian society.
The George Institute for Global Health
Produce Prescription: innovative ‘Food is Medicine’ intervention to improve health among people with type2 diabetes
$600,000 over 5 years
Unhealthy diet is one of the major drivers of type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions. In fact, the most recent Global Burden of Disease study shows that a suboptimal diet contributes to 11 million chronic disease deaths per year (globally). These conditions cost the Australian Healthcare System billions of dollars each year, and the burden of disease is felt most by disadvantaged communities.
To address this, Professor Jason Wu – Head of Nutrition Science at the George Institute for Global Health (TGI) – has focused his research interests on ‘Food is Medicine’ in the Australian context. In 2020, TGI undertook a small trial to test the feasibility and impact of ‘produce prescription’ for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in food-insecure adults, and the results were positive. The trial confirmed acceptability to patients and, importantly, also demonstrated clinically relevant reductions in HbA1c-, a key clinical biomarker for glucose control.
This grant will enable TGI to further test the efficacy of the intervention with a larger randomised controlled trial (RCT) to define clinical benefits and cost-effectiveness to justify implementation and scaling up.
The RCT will enrol 280 individuals from the Sydney metropolitan area, especially those living in Western Sydney, a culturally diverse area with high rates of social disadvantage and type 2 diabetes.
This Australian first study will provide high-quality evidence about an innovative intervention that could support clinical guideline updates for the nutritional management of type 2 diabetes and create a healthcare ‘paradigm shift’ away from an over-reliance on drug-centred models of disease treatment towards innovative solutions that address the upstream causes of ill-health for disease prevention.
Details of all grants awarded in this round can be found in the Grants Database.