Strong boost in new ARC research grants

La Trobe University has been awarded more than $1.6 million in today's round of Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project grants – about 30 per cent more than last year.

Caption: How can more women reach top leadership roles, like former Governor-General Quentin Bryce and Australian-American author and company director Jill Ker Conway, above? 

The University's success rate of 46% is well above the national rate of 36%, an indication of the outstanding quality of our winning work, said Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Keith Nugent.

Six projects were funded, double last year's number. 'This is a wonderful endorsement of the high standard and social usefulness of research by our staff into issues that matter nationally and internationally,' Professor Nugent said.

'The studies relate to women in leadership, educational disadvantage in regional Australia, support for people with disabilities, environmental conservation of urban rivers and creeks, sign language, and migration.' (See below.)

Professor Nugent congratulated grant recipients and thanked partner organisations for their continued endorsement of La Trobe's world-class researchers.

The grants were announced today by the Minister for Education and Training, the Hon Christopher Pyne, MP.  

Mr Pyne said Australia's future depended on 'collaboration across disciplines and sectors, on turning our ideas and research into real goods and services, technologies and life improvements.'

The ARC Linkage Project scheme funds collaborative research which connects industry with university researchers. In addition to the ARC funds, industry partners have committed more than $2 million of support to the La Trobe projects.  

Media queries: Ernest Raetz, 0412 261 919

Photo: from the website of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General .

Full list Caption: Transnational research to foster women in leadership. Former Governor-General Quentin Bryce with Australian-American author, academic and company director Jill Ker Conway -  from the website of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General

Full list of 2015 ARC Linkage Grant recipients

Professor Christine Bigby and Professor Jacinta Douglas, with colleagues from UTS, UNSW and QUT - $495,700

'Effective Decision Making Support for People with Cognitive Disability'

Partner Organisations: Melbourne City Mission, Victorian Office of the Public Advocate, Inclusion Melbourne Inc., Endeavour Foundation, Summer Foundation Ltd, Family & Community Services NSW, Queensland Office of the Public Advocate, NSW Office of the Public Guardian, Queensland Mental Health Commission, The Public Trustee of Queensland, NSW Trustee and Guardian, Office of the Public Guardian Qld

This project aims to produce and test evidence-based education resources that boost the ability of supporters of people with cognitive disability to put the supported person's own desires and values at the centre of decisions, as required by treaty obligations and best practice. The project aims to develop innovative education resources, and to then investigate the impact of the resources on the practices of decision-making supporters and the person being supported in a randomised control trial in three jurisdictions. The anticipated outcome is a demonstrably effective capacity-building tool, able to cater for all types of cognitive disabilities and the full spectrum of support contexts from guardianship to informal support.

Professor Lin Crase, with colleagues from UWA, Monash University, CQU, and the University of Manchester (UK) - $140,000  (Based on Albury-Wodonga Campus)

'Understanding, measuring and managing the benefits of urban waterways'

Partner Organisations: Melbourne Water, Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries

This project aims to improve understanding of the contribution of urban waterways to enhanced liveability in cities. Australia needs better water resource management and the rapid growth of Australia's cities places increased importance on managing natural assets in metropolitan areas. The project focuses on clarifying the link between the benefits of waterways and the measurement techniques used by economists, which in turn inform management choices. The project aims to fill an important gap between the psychology and economics disciplines and outputs should significantly improve the way waterways are valued and managed. This is intended to offer benefits for urban residents and to improve the methodologies used for environmental valuation.

Professor Diane Kirkby and Professor Tanya Fitzgerald, with colleagues from the University of Wollongong  $224,325

'Fostering women leaders through educational exchange, 1930–1980'

Partner Organisation: Australian-American Fulbright Commission

This project plans to explore what makes it possible for women to exercise leadership. This project is a transnational study of women from Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the Philippines who participated in educational exchange programs with the United States in the mid-20th century. The project asks how these cross-cultural encounters and international networks facilitated and transformed the practices of leadership in the United States, Asia and the Pacific. The project, in partnership with the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, aims to provide a historical perspective on leadership which can inform contemporary debates on the conditions for fostering women as leaders.

Professor Helen Lee

'Pacific Islanders in regional Victoria: visitors, migrants and overstayers'  - $181,890

Partner Organisations: Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council Inc., Mallee Sports Assembly Inc.

This project aims to understand the socio-economic situation of Pacific Islanders living in regional Victoria, including visitors, permanent residents, seasonal workers and undocumented migrants. The aim is to investigate the impact of these different statuses on access to public services, interactions within and across ethnic groups, and trans-local and transnational practices. Working with partner organisations involved with migrant populations in the area, the project seeks to shed new light on Australian regional migration and bring marginalised regional populations into discussions of migration and transnationalism. Intended outcomes include scholarly publications, policy-focused reports and an open access project website.

Professor Vaughan Prain, Dr Craig Deed, Professor Noel Meyers, and Dr Cathleen Farrelly, with colleagues from the University of Tasmania and Deakin University - $424,174  (Based on Bendigo Campus)

'Improving Regional Low SES Students' Learning and Wellbeing'

Partner Organisations: Anglicare Australia (Tasmania), Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Department of Education Tasmania, Bendigo South East College, Crusoe College, Weeroona College Bendigo, Eaglehawk Secondary College, Northern Bay P–12 College  

This study aims to address the learning and wellbeing needs of over 7000 predominantly low socio-economic status students in regional Australia by researching the conditions that enable refinement and extension of a successful curricular and wellbeing program. The current low educational performance of this student cohort has significant negative effects on individual employment prospects and broader national productivity. Their under-achievement and disengagement from schooling also contribute to many antisocial, harmful short-and long-term outcomes for individuals, with significant health and other costs to the broader community. Outcomes from the project have the potential to improve these current outcomes and to be applicable to similar settings.

Assoc. Professor Adam Schembri, with colleagues from Monash University 

'Bridging the theory-practice gap in the teaching of sign languages' - $196,428

Partner Organisations: NMIT, Victorian Deaf Society  

This project aims to improve our understanding of how to teach sign languages to adults as second and additional languages. Internationally, there is significant demand for sign language classes, but relatively little is known about the processes involved when hearing adults learn a sign language, or the similarities and differences to second language learning of spoken languages. This project aims to develop and test the efficacy of a range of innovative teaching materials and approaches, as well as create the first standardised Australian Sign Language (Auslan) test for adults. It aims to significantly improve the quality of Auslan teaching at the partner institution and provide a model of best practice internationally.

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