Seed funding now bearing fruit

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TYPE Prevention Centre News

A wide range of innovative new research, capacity building and research translation has been supported by Prevention Centre seed funding grants to help pursue chronic disease prevention research-related activities that would otherwise go unfunded.

The 2022 scheme is now open for Expressions of Interest from early and mid-career researchers, practitioners, and policy makers affiliated with a current Prevention Centre project, investigator or funding partner.

Dr Tara Boelsen-Robinson was a successful applicant last year and reflects on the enormous impact this funding has made. The $5,000 she received was matched by Deakin University’s Institute for Health Transformation to create interactive food retail workshops for health promotion practitioners to upskill in systems thinking.

It is so hard to get funding to show how research applies to practice or policy and it’s awesome the Prevention Centre seed funding is targeted for this kind of work.

Dr Tara Boelsen-Robinson

The seed funding program is designed to support emerging leaders and in Tara’s case she was able to support another emerging leader by employing a Research Fellow, Dr Tari Bowling, to help design and deliver the workshops.

“This was an exciting opportunity for collaboration and alignment, to bring in the systems expert as complementary skills to my training in food retail. Funding for the project allowed me to supervise another Postdoctoral Research Fellow, which has been a considerable growth opportunity for me.”

Two workshops were designed for health promotion practitioners to explore the potential of translating a theoretical, evidence-based framework – the Systems Thinking Approach to Retail Transformation map (START map) – into a practical tool to support healthy food retail implementation. The two-hour workshops were hosted by The Centre for Excellence in Food Retail Environments for Health (RE-FRESH) and facilitated by Dr Miranda Blake, Andrew Brown, Dr Jill Whelan, Dr Meaghan Christian and Carmen Vargas.

More than 40 people attended each workshop, held in April and May this year, from state and local government, universities, health services, research bodies and nutrition focused organisations. Overwhelmingly, participants reported learning some or many new concepts (94%), and 96% reported the workshops as an excellent or good introduction to systems science. They were introduced to the concepts and tools of systems thinking and how to apply it to the planning, implementation and resourcing of healthy food retail interventions and policies. The participants also provided input into the development of a practical, systems-based tool aimed at supporting health promotion practitioners to create healthy food retail environments in health services, sports and recreation settings, and local government settings.

Great workshop – really enjoyed it and prompted some thinking for me to take back to my team to use these as a better way to explain our work.

These (tools) would be great for use in the planning of any healthy eating changes within a retail space – makes it easier to identify possible staring points which may alter from setting to setting.

Workshop participants

Since completing the workshops, many participants have requested access to the recorded content to share with their colleagues along with requests for additional training workshops with wider networks. Tara and her team have also received interest from international research groups and planning is underway for a collaborative knowledge sharing project. You can watch the recorded content from the workshops on the RE-FRESH website here.

Developing an online interactive practitioner tool of the START map, accompanied by training material and case studies, has been identified an important next step to conduct similar training at scale, improving accessibility and useability for practitioners in a sustainable model.  

Applications for the Prevention Centre’s 2022 Seeding Grants Program close on 8 July 2022Read more information on eligibility and how to apply.