funding for detecting diabetes in pregnancy in rural communities

Lishman Health Research welcomes additional funding for detecting diabetes in pregnancy in rural communities

In association with UWA’s Medical School and the Rural Clinical School of WA, Lishman Health Research is proud to initially support this study and congratulates the Collaborative team in gaining additional funding to develop this important work.

In our quest to promote health research resulting in significant health gains for people living in regional WA, a ground-breaking project set up to protect the health of Aboriginal mothers and their families in rural communities by optimising the screening and management of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy has received a $3.2 million funding boost from the Medical Research Future Fund.

Professor Julia Marley, a Senior Principal Research Fellow from The University of Western Australia’s Medical School and the Rural Clinical School of WA, is chief investigator of the ORCHID Study – a collaboration between the Rural Clinical School of WA, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services and their member services, Diabetes WA and WA Country Health Services.

In welcoming the funding, Professor Marley said diabetes disproportionately impacts the lives of Aboriginal people, with predisposition beginning in pregnancy.

funding for detecting diabetes in pregnancy in rural communities

Image: From left, Emma Jamieson (Research Associate, RCSWA), Professor Julia Marley (Senior Principal Research Fellow, RCSWA), Janelle Dillon (Midwife and Diabetes educator at Bega Garnbirringu Health Service), Erica Spry (Research Fellow, RCSWA and Research Officer, KAMS).

“Hyperglycaemia or high blood glucose in pregnancy increases babies’ risk of birth defects and being born premature and by caesarean, as well as being born larger or smaller than optimum, with low blood glucose levels, and difficulty breathing,” Professor Marley said.

“Babies have increased risk for obesity and altered glucose metabolism in childhood and for future diabetes, and mothers have increased risk for future diabetes and cardiovascular disease – it is a significant and far- reaching health issue, particularly affecting remote and rural communities.”

Ms Erica Spry, Bardi Jawi traditional owner and co-chief investigator from the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services and the Rural Clinical School of WA, said the new funding would allow the project to implement, evaluate and refine the alternative screening that earlier phases of this study identified for detecting high blood glucose in pregnancy at regional, state and national levels.

“The ORCHID Study is to benefit all ethnicities, especially our Aboriginal women, it is important to acknowledge all the women across WA who have participated in the ORCHID Study, we thank you all,” Ms Spry said.

“With this grant, we will begin sharing  sugar management tools to help assist Aboriginal women with managing their high blood glucose levels in pregnancy and work on ways to support the family of the expecting mums. This funding will help us bring benefits back to our community members.

“As already proven effective, we’ll use three-way learning between Aboriginal community members, health providers and researchers to co-design and trial self-management strategies for high blood glucose in

“We want to help and assist empower Aboriginal women and their families to make positive lifestyle choices aimed at improving birth outcomes and health for subsequent pregnancies and prevent or delay progression to chronic disease.”

In congratulating Professor Marley and her team, UWA Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Anna Nowak said the funding would make a difference in tackling “an incredibly important health issue”.

“This project is improving and promoting the health and well-being for Aboriginal people in remote Australia through practical community and health services-based research and working hand in hand with local communities, work which is having tangible and significant outcomes,” Professor Nowak said.

The Medical Research Future Fund is a $20 billion long-term investment supporting Australian health and medical research. The fund aims to transform health and medical research and innovation to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to health system sustainability.

Rural adversity – Mental Health Impact of Covid-19 in South West WA

Just published.  With the support of Lishman this important paper describes results on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with AOD use problems from a broader study exploring the experiences of AOD service users in WA’s South West (SW) region, and discusses the implications for community resilience and response to continuing rural adversity.

Click here to view the full paper

Just Published – Lishman Eye Injection treatment paper published by CSIRO Australian Health Review

Addressing eye injection treatment options for retinal vascular disease, this article by Lishman Board Member, Peter Heyworth, has just been accepted for publication in the Australian Health Review.  This article explores the the efficacy and cost of eye injection treatments Aflibercept (Eylea) and Bevacizumab (Avastin) and raises important questions regarding cost.

Bevacizumab for blinding eye disease – is it not time for the PBS to list for off-label use?

Peter Heyworth 0000-0003-2065-0775


Abstract Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) eye injections have become the most accepted and effective treatment modality for some of the leading causes of blindness. Aflibercept (Eylea) is now the most expensive item on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) with ranibizumab (Lucentis) eighth. In 2011 the pharmaceutical cost for these treatments stood at $237 million – now the figure is $665 million and climbing.1,2 Bevacizumab (Avastin) is part of the original molecular lineage for this group of biologic agents which were originally designed for cancer therapy. It has now been administered world-wide on an off-label basis and in very large numbers for retinal vascular disease. It has a proven efficacy and safety profile.3 Bevacizumab is thirty times cheaper than the Therapeutics Goods Association (TGA) approved alternatives and its use could reduce PBS costs by hundreds of millions of dollars. Should the TGA be the sole arbiter in the approval of drugs, or should alternative bodies have some say in the approval of off-label usage under such compelling circumstances? Legislation for this approach has been approved in France, the UK and Italy.4,5,6 Only by eliminating the legal risk to authorising bodies and physicians as well as removing the financial disincentive to the patient associated with off-label use, will drugs such as bevacizumab be more widely adopted.

AH21379  Accepted 16 December 2021

Read the full paper here

© CSIRO 2021Australian Health Review

End of Life Care – Best at Home or Residential Aged Care?

Lishman continues to support this important work and findings that impact our community and their end-of-life care.  These important findings can point the way to appropriate and supported at home care and make recommendations to General Practitioners caring for patients at the end of their life.

Comparison of end-of-life care for (1)

Advanced Care Planning – GPs

Uptake of advance care planning

Proudly supported by Lishman Health Research, this paper addresses the uptake of verbal and written advanced care plans (ACP’s) from the perspective of the Australian General Practitioner.  It highlights the potential benefits associated with Advanced Care Planning, and examines the impact of these plans on patient’s place of death.  This study calls attention to the importance of the awareness of death for at least three months prior to the event (where possible) and the role of palliative care training for GPs in improving the uptake of Advanced Care Plans.

Resilience or Risk? Exploring the Impact of Rurality on Youth Mental Health

Funding has been secured through Lishman Health Research by Dr Sarah Youngson at RCSWA to research the impact of living in a rural area on the mental health of young people. The study seeks to explore the risk and protective factors of a rural address on youth mental health.

Risk factors for mental illness are magnified in rural communities, with stigma, lack of anonymity, and access to services being dominant factors. In contrast, a rural residence confers a number of protective factors which warrant further exploration. The strengthening of these factors has the potential to mitigate the risks of rurality on youth mental health.

The study will utilise qualitative methods, based on a phenomenological world view which will attempt to understand the lived experienced of young people in rural communities. The study will be guided by the principles of participatory action research, in which the group being researched – rural young people – will be actively involved in the research process (Baum, MacDougall, & Smith, 2006). Participatory Action Research (PAR) includes involving those most affected by the issue under investigation, being directly involved in the development of the inquiry process as well as the implementation of any actions that arise from the process (Crane & O’Regan, 2010).

South Regional Health Research Collaborative

Lishman Health Research, in partnership with Rural Health West, St John of God Bunbury, Edith Cowan University, WA Country Health Service, WA Primary Health Alliance and WA Health Translation Network, initiated the South Regional Health Research Collaborative in 2019. The key objectives of the SRHRC are:

  • Form a collaborative South Regional community of health professionals, researchers, universities and research organisations to optimise the opportunity for health research in the South West region.
  • Identify current health research and translational health research activity.
  • Determine future health research and translational health research priorities relevant to, health practice, health outcomes and health professional development.
  • Grow health research and translational health research activity.
  • Develop strategies for research implementation and translational research projects.
  • Identify resources to support research.
  • Facilitate the South Regional Health Research Collaborative in guiding and directing research projects in accordance with identified health research needs and priorities.

The SRHRC held the inaugural South West Health Research Forum on the 26 November 2020, bringing together over 90 health professionals, researchers, universities and research organisations to guide and direct future research projects in accordance with identified health research needs and priorities.



Regional and Rural Health Research Activity Update – May 2020

Regional and Rural Health Research Activity Update – August 2020

Regional and Rural Health Research Activity Update – March 2021


The South West Health Research Collaborative will also host a series of webinars.

Webinar 1: The ORCHID Study

South West Alcohol and Other Drug Study

A research study conducted in collaboration with The Rural Clinical School of WA and Lishman Health Research is currently underway. The research aims to explore users’ experiences of accessing alcohol and other drug (AOD) services in the South West, and the impact of COVID-19 on service availability and accessibility. Telephone interviews were conducted with study participants who have AOD use problems living in the South West, regardless of whether they have accessed AOD services of not.

Recruitment for the study has now finished. The research team is currently analysing the data, with research findings due to be released later in 2020.

For further information on this study, please contact Associate Professor Mat Coleman on (08) 9842 0811.


Fellowship Program

Mental Health & Wellbeing in Augusta Margaret River

Lishman Health Research has engaged the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health from the University of Newcastle to explore mental health and wellbeing approaches in Augusta Margaret River.

The Project Advisory Committee, established by the Lishman Health Foundation with representatives from across the Shire of Augusta Margaret River, have guided and supported this project. The consultation process has only been possible because of the commitment of people from the Shire of Augusta Margaret River to address mental health and wellbeing in their community. Their willingness to provide their views openly and frankly has provided a solid foundation for moving forward to promote mental health and wellbeing across the community. The Final Report is now available for the community to view. 

This report describes the results of a project to explore options for addressing mental health and wellbeing in the Shire of Augusta Margaret River. The project was undertaken to identify the key issues and explore community views about mental health and wellbeing in the area. The project represents a commitment to address mental health and wellbeing in the area.

Mental Health and Wellbeing: Final Report