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Policy partner wins award for simulation modelling project

26 October 2017

Prevention Centre policy partner Vincy Li has won an early career researcher award for her presentation on a dynamic simulation modelling project that is guiding NSW Ministry of Health’s decision-making around childhood overweight and obesity.

Vincy Li receiving her award.

Ms Li’s presentation at the 2017 ANZOS-OSSANZ-AOCO Joint Scientific Conference detailed how the project has enabled policy makers and practitioners to gain insights into the potential impact of interventions to achieve the Premier’s Priority of a 5% reduction in childhood overweight and obesity within 10 years.

The NSW Ministry of Health partnered with the Prevention Centre to develop the childhood overweight and obesity dynamic simulation model. In a ground-breaking participatory approach, researchers, policy makers and practitioners worked together collaboratively to map the complex factors leading to childhood overweight and obesity.

Policy context

Ms Li, a Senior Evaluation Officer in the Ministry’s Office of Preventive Health, was involved in the project from the start. As a member of the core model building group, her role was to ensure the final model was relevant to the policy context, understandable and easy to use by decision makers at the Ministry.

“The Prevention Centre was very keen to build capacity, and they taught me so much – not just about the modelling itself, but also how to develop a model in collaboration with all the different stakeholders,” Ms Li said.

“One of the reasons it’s been so successful from the Ministry’s point of view, and why the model is being used, is the participatory approach. It engaged stakeholders throughout the project to build and critique the model and ensure the interface is suitable for their day-to-day use.”

Ms Li presented to the conference on behalf of the team. Her presentation included the project’s finding that it was theoretically possible to achieve the Premier’s Priority. However, current population health interventions alone would not be sufficient to reach the target, and a broader range of cross-sectoral interventions was required.

The Ministry and some stakeholders have subsequently used the model. The team is now working on extending the model to include several new interventions that may contribute to achieving the Premier’s Priority.

This project follows another Prevention Centre project that successfully applied these methods to explore policy options for reducing alcohol-related harms in NSW.