Health Issues Centre

Dr. Kate Huggins (left); Alison Coughlan, CEO Health Issues Centre (right)

Health Issues Centre (HIC) is Victoria’s peak consumer agency. DHE has recently engaged with HIC on a number of grants and research projects, creating a strong foundation for ongoing partnership activities. Since 1985, HIC has strongly advocated for involving consumers and the community in the healthcare system, enabling individuals with personal experiences to play an active role in enhancing it. Their experience and expertise will guide and support best-practice consumer engagement as they passionately advocate for the community.

Recently, Alison Coughlan, CEO of Health Issues Centre (HIC) joined us in October for a Consumer Engagement Seminar. This was an insightful presentation into the importance and process of co-design and community engagement research.

Manager of Strategic Partnerships for the Institute of Health Transformation, Amy Brown helped facilitate this event, reflecting;

‘It was great to hear from Alison about the work of the Health Issues Centre and how Deakin researchers can engage with them. For example, they can advise on consumer engagement approaches and design, help you find the consumers for your research, and even process payments to consumers for engaging in your research. Really practical, time saving support’.

HIC provides services in facilitating community consultations, consumer recruitment and payment support, bespoke training programs and codesign services, to name a few.

Cancer Council Victoria

We are thrilled to share exciting news from our Economics of Cancer Collaboration, a partnership between Deakin Health Economics (DHE), Cancer Council Victoria (CCV), and the Institute for Health Transformation (IHT). Featured prominently in the recently released IHT Impact report, our partnership is entering a new phase of collaboration, with all partners committing to investment until 2027.

Led by the dedicated efforts of Associate Professor Nikki McCaffrey, Head of Cancer Research for DHE, and Todd Harper, CEO of Cancer Council Victoria, our collaboration officially commenced in 2016. The partnership aims to produce high-quality, innovative, and collaborative research, translation, and policy development.  Crucially, a Senior Research Fellow co-funded under the partnership agreement, was embedded within both organizations, fostering a “two-way exchange of knowledge and information”, resulting in “quality, publishable, scientific research that has a policy-relevant context” according to Harper. Through this approach, we have explored the value for money of health services, with a focus on improving screening, prevention, treatment, and support for individuals affected by cancer.

Our research efforts have yielded impactful outcomes, including economic evaluations of vital services like the Victorian Quitline, based at the Cancer Council. Dr. Sarah White, former Director of Quit, highlighted the value of our work, stating, “Funding for Quitline was increased in 2018, and I think that was due to us being able to demonstrate not just effectiveness in quitting, but additionally how much the Quitline was saving the Victorian health system.”

Furthermore, our collaboration has attracted significant external funding, totalling $2.4 million. This includes the prestigious $1.2 million NHMRC Partnership Project, “Defining  and optimizing the economic and social return on investment of telephone cancer information and support services (CISS) for sll Australians  ”,  underscoring the recognition and value our work brings to the field of cancer research.

As we step into this next phase of collaboration, our focus aligns with the priorities outlined in the recently launched Australian Cancer Plan  and the forthcoming 2024-2028 Victorian Cancer Plan. Our efforts will concentrate on identifying “best buys” in cancer control and developing innovative cancer care navigation models, among other vital initiatives.

In closing, we extend our gratitude to our partners, stakeholders, community representatives and supporters who have made this journey possible. Together, we are driving meaningful change in the fight against cancer. Stay tuned for more updates on our progress and impact in the months to come.

Grampians Public Health Unit

This year saw the establishment of a new formal partnership between DHE and the Grampians Public Health Unit (GPHU). Lead by Prof. Rosemary Aldrich and Dr. Robert Grenfell, the GPHU aims to strengthen the public health response to communicable diseases and other health issues within the catchment area through collaboration with other health services and organisations. As part of the partnership, GPHU and DHE seek to provide heath economics research input in reporting outcomes, build research, evaluation and systems thinking within the GPHU. Recently members from GPHU, Western Victorian Primary Health Network, the Victorian Agency for Health Information and Deakin Health Economics met in Ballarat to brainstorm future partnership activities, focusing on reducing the mortality and morbidity of coronary heart disease.

Western Victorian Primary Health Network

The Western Victorian Primary Health Network (WVPHN) continues to be an important partner with DHE this year. This partnership was initially signed late 2022 which sees DHE conduct a project to evaluate the newly established Priority Primary Care Centres in Ballarat, Geelong and Warrnambool. This has since been extended to mid 2024. Off the back of this partnership and signing, WVPHN have continued to be an ongoing supporter and advocate for the DHE, with a number of joint grant applications and research projects being undertaken. More recently, Master’s student projects have been submitted to Deakin University and are currently advertised. These projects involve working with the Western Victorian Primary Health Network and will allow students to participate in projects that have real industry experience and direct policy implications. WVPHN also have a number of staff members with honorary appointments to the University.