Rural aged care research in top gear

La Trobe University has appointed Jeni Warburton as its John Richards Professor of Rural Aged Care Research, based at the Albury-Wodonga campus.

Professor Jeni Warburton

Professor Jeni Warburton

Professor Warburton is a former Senior Research Fellow in the Australasian Centre on Ageing at the University of Queensland. For more than fifteen years she has studied healthy ageing, ageing in the community and the social participation of older people, as well as social policy issues relating to an ageing society.

In her new role, Professor Warburton heads La Trobe University's John Richards Research Initiative (JRI) into Aged Care in Rural Communities - a five-year $1.5 million venture funded jointly in equal parts by a private benefactor, La Trobe University's Faculty of Health Sciences and the State Government.

The JRI is named after John Richards, a former jackaroo, soldier, farmer, Victorian newsagency association executive and inaugural president of the Yarrawonga District Hospital board of management.

With projections that nearly one in three people in country Victoria will be aged 60 years or older by 2021, research carried out by the JRI will be significant in helping shape future aged care services for country Victoria.

'Our efforts will focus on delivery of an effective and efficient mix of aged care services for rural and regional Victoria, and the workforce planning and educational services needed to achieve this,' Professor Warburton said.

Announcing the appointment, La Trobe University Dean of Health Sciences, Professor Hal Swerissen, said the John Richards Initiative builds on the University's strengths in social gerontology and aged care research to address important and specific aged care issues.

'Demand for health and aged care services will increase dramatically as the population ages. Rural and regional communities, already under a lot of pressure, face unique challenges in achieving high-quality, appropriate services in response to these demands.

'This initiative,' he said, 'will also establish a leading rural centre for honours and postgraduate research training in rural aged care workforce and health delivery initiatives.'

Professor Warburton plans initially to explore issues of local significance, extending her existing studies - which are supported by an Australian Research Council grant - into what is needed so that people can age well while they remain living in the community. She has already begun to make connections with agencies and other stakeholders in the Albury-Wodonga Border region.

The La Trobe JRI research team includes Professor of Cancer and Palliative Care Studies, Annette Street, from the La Trobe University-Austin Health Clinical School of Nursing, who has an international reputation in health care and nursing research. Other researchers include Head of Health Sciences at the Albury-Wodonga campus, Dr Guin Threlkeld, and colleagues Mary Taylor and Deirdre Rennick.

One of Professor Warburton's early functions will be to open a 'JRI Stakeholders' Forum' on rural aged care at the Albury-Wodonga campus on Friday 14 November. She will give a keynote address and Professor Street will speak about her work in the region.

Further information

For interviews or further information please contact:

Professor Jeni Warburton
(02) 6024 9723
Professor Hal Swerissen
(03) 9479 1930