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April 2019

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Associate Professor Mark Yates.

Collaboration to drive research in Ballarat

Ballarat’s two major health services and six universities offering local health professional training have joined forces to foster healthcare excellence through research.

The Ballarat Innovation and Research Collaboration for Health (BIRCH) collaboration will be led by St John of God Ballarat, Ballarat Health Services (BHS) and Federation University.

The other collaborators are the three Ballarat-based medical schools hosted by Deakin University, Notre Dame University and the University of Melbourne, the Dental School hosted by La Trobe University and nursing, paramedics and physiotherapy training hosted by the Australian Catholic University Ballarat.

Funded by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, BIRCH will bring focus to the research capability of Ballarat and grow the skill sets needed to address the key challenges for excellence in health care.

Research areas will include aged care, primary care and population health, and health care systems and integration.

Digital health, mental health and health resource stewardship are key themes that will inform thinking and solution generation across the research areas.

BIRCH will focus on translational research – accelerating the uptake of evidence from research that improves patient and community outcomes in complex health systems.

‘The establishment of BIRCH is critical to the development of Ballarat as a recognised centre of academic excellence,’ said recently-appointed inaugural executive director Mark Yates.

‘Ballarat is already recognised as Victoria’s leading regional centre for secondary education with great potential for the university sector to strengthen research collaboration through BIRCH.’

As head of Deakin University’s clinical school in Ballarat, Associate Professor Yates has been a leading advocate for the development of research and innovation in Ballarat.

He has worked directly with the BIRCH health services and many of the universities in the collaboration.

As well, Associate Professor Yates has been a geriatrician at Ballarat Health Services for 20 years.

‘I know BIRCH will be embraced by the wider community of Ballarat, and, by demonstrating the ingenuity of the Ballarat research community, become a source of community pride and inspiration,’ Associate Professor Yates said.

‘World-class health care is built on world class research and BIRCH aspires to undertake world-class research and become known for meeting the health research knowledge needs for regional and rural Victoria’.