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CeRDI Newsletter Spring 2016

Message from the Director

CeRDI Director Helen Thompson  

Associate Professor
Helen Thompson


Welcome to the latest bumper issue of the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) newsletter showcasing recent research and technical innovations.

A highlight in September was CeRDI’s double success at the Victorian Spatial Excellence Awards: the Corangamite Natural Resource Management Planning Portal was granted the Award for Environment and Sustainability; and Online Farm Trials won the Award for Spatial Enablement.

The Centre has also been involved in a number of collaborative research projects that have culminated in various project launches. These successful outcomes have been complemented by commencement of research including a data mapping and sharing project with the Wimmera Social Services Community of Practice, and significant involvement in recent funding bids for the CRC for High Performance Soils, Food Agility CRC and collaboration with RMIT on a Global Innovation Linkages program to conduct industry relevant research in the area of precision agriculture.

Major awards for CeRDI

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Left to right: Helen Thompson,
Chris Pitfield (CCMA), Rob Milne
and Gavan Mathieson


The Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) has won two major awards at the 2016 Victorian Spatial Excellence Awards, announced at a gala dinner in Melbourne in September.

CeRDI and its partners won the Award for Environment and Sustainability for the Corangamite Natural Resources Management (NRM) Planning Portal, and also won the Award for Spatial Enablement for Online Farm Trials.

“I congratulate other winners and finalists in the Victorian Spatial Excellence Awards,” CeRDI’s Director, Associate Professor Helen Thompson, said. “We are very proud of the spatial and knowledge management research we undertake and I acknowledge and thank my CeRDI colleagues who have been involved in these successful projects. We are committed to working with industry partners to deliver digital and online innovations that support and enhance their work practices. These awards recognise the achievements of CeRDI and its strong and collaborative ties with industry to effectively utilise the latest innovation and spatial technologies to transform industry knowledge”.



Launch of Waterwatch and EstuaryWatch

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CeRDI has recently completed development work on two prominent Victorian citizen science programs: Waterwatch, and its sister programme, EstuaryWatch.

Both Waterwatch and EstuaryWatch are well-established, important community engagement programs promoting interest in water issues including sustainability, water management and the health of local waterways and connecting local Victorian communities.

More specifically, Waterwatch facilitates community involvement in river health and sustainable water practices. Waterwatch community members are encouraged to become participants in their local environment through waterway monitoring and ongoing activities.

In a similar vein, EstuaryWatch promotes the monitoring of estuary health and local waterways across 18 Victorian regions, and is supported through involvement of local catchment management authorities.

Agriculture Climate Resilience Project

Agriculture Climate Resilience Project  

An extensive impact research study reporting on the South Gippsland Agricultural Climate Resilience Project (ACRP) has recently been completed by Dr Angela Murphy together with a team of researchers from CeRDI.

This research, which was commissioned by South Gippsland Council together with Bass Coast Council, was undertaken to examine the outcomes from a two year project implemented to support climate change adaptation across food producers in the region. The aim of the program was to improve resilience to climate risks through better decision making and effective action on the ground. A range of engagement, educational and information sharing activities were developed and offered to communities across the region. The program was funded by the Victorian Government’s Department of Environmental, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).

CeRDI’s role was to examine the implementation and uptake of the program across the region using wide ranging research methods that included surveys, interviews and an extensive review of program and secondary data (including post event evaluation responses completed by program participants). The researchers explored the approaches that were most effective in supporting the community, and examined the extent to which project delivery aligned with the program aims that had been established.

FedUni – a key participant in CRC bids

Federation University Australia (FedUni) is a key participant in two of the Round 18 Stage 2 Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) bids.

The CRC bid for High Performance Soils (CRC-HPS) is a 10 year research program designed to provide farmers with the knowledge and tools required to make decisions on extremely complex soil management issues. CRC-HPS bridges the gap between soil science and farm management. FedUni’s participation in this CRC involves CeRDI and the Faculty of Science and Technology.

CeRDI and RMIT collaborate on precision agriculture

CeRDI is collaborating on a funding bid with RMIT to expand innovation linkages nationally and internationally in the area of precision agriculture. The Smart Digital Platforms for Innovative Precision Agriculture (SmartAg) program will support the development of a suite of innovative platforms and smart systems for next generation agriculture using advanced precise satellite positioning, geographical information system (GIS) and remote sensing technologies.

Sport and Recreation Spatial documentary film

Sport and Recreation Spatial documentary film  

A documentary film about Sport and Recreation Spatial has recently been prepared by Wind and Sky Productions. The film, which was launched in October, offers a comprehensive overview of the Sport and Recreation program of research and includes narration by the principal researcher Associate Professor Rochelle Eime.

Sport and Recreation Spatial is a collaborative program of research between the Faculty of Health (FedUni), CeRDI and the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (Victoria University).

Sport and Recreation Spatial researchers investigate sport and recreation participation, sports facilities and health outcomes. Industry collaboration has supported the establishment of an extensive collection of national and state-wide data covering areas including sports participation, sport and recreation facilities, population demographics and population health from multiple data custodians. The current collection includes over 3.5 million sport participant records from 11 leading sports. Sport and Recreation Spatial data has been analysed and interrogated for a range of research, planning and policy purposes with key project partners including State Sporting Associations, Sport and Recreation Victoria and VicHealth.

Visualising Victoria's Biodiversity

Visualising Victoria's Biodiversity  

A new open access community resource called Visualising Victoria's Biodiversity (VVB) was recently launched with the aim of facilitating information sharing and discovery about Victoria's environmental values, conservation activities and research. VVB consolidates access to spatial environmental datasets and information – created and managed by government agencies, organisations, community groups and individuals – into a user friendly and interactive platform.

VB is an initiative of CeRDI, which, under the research leadership of Rob Milne, has been supported by funding from the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust.

VVB offers a range of features for accessing and generating key environmental information with tools available to support:

  • generation of lists of environmental features such as flora and fauna records, for a user-selected area of interest;
  • map layers in which observations, environmental features, monitoring information and environmental events in any area of Victoria can be viewed and overlayed; and
  • information sharing about environmental projects or research.

Learning about the migration of Latham's snipe

Lathamís Snipe in Port Fairy. Photo: Richard Chamberlain  

Above: A great place to see Latham’s Snipe
in Port Fairy. Photo: Richard Chamberlain.


A research project using light-level geolocators to obtain information on migratory patterns of the Latham’s snipe (Gallinago hardwickii), a shorebird that migrates to the Japan from Australia, has resulted in the first ever full migration track for the species.

The research is being coordinated by Dr Birgita Hansen, a research fellow at CeRDI. The Lathan’s snipe project team has been working collaboratively with colleagues from the Wild Bird Society of Japan (WBSJ). Close connections with Japan have been forged through this project, and the Australian research team recently visiting members of the WBSJ in Hokkaido to conduct snipe research.

The Latham’s snipe research commenced in October 2015 with the capture and tagging of Latham snipe in Port Fairy, south-west Victoria. Data loggers called geolocators that record day length, were deployed on birds. Recapture of birds is required to retrieve the light data from the logger.

On 9 October 2016, Birgita and colleagues re-captured the first tagged bird (T0) only a few hundred metres from its original capture site, 12 months previously. The geolocator appeared in good condition and the bird was in good health.

Our Coast website launch

Our Coast website Screen Grab  

The Our Coast website, developed at CeRDI, was launched earlier this year in Geelong by Water Minister, the Honourable Lisa Neville.

The Our Coast website offers local government and communities in the Bellarine Peninsula and Geelong information about planning for a changing climate and the local environmental impacts this change may exacerbate, such as rising sea levels, storm surges and coastal erosion.

The project has an extensive community engagement focus and was supported by the Victorian Government, the City of Greater Geelong, the Borough of Queenscliffe and local committees of management.

A series of community information sessions have been conducted in each of these areas enabling community members to learn more about the coastal data and the predicted scenarios relating to sea level rises over the next 50 years. Session attendees have learnt about possible implications of rising sea levels and have been provided with the opportunity to provide input into future planning initiatives.

Southern Farming System Probe Trax

Southern Farming System Probe Trax  

Southern Farming Systems (SFS) have a 20 year history of delivering programs to farmers and advisors across southern Victoria and Tasmania. Recently SFS have teamed with the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) to deliver projects and services through Landcare networks in the region. SFS have been responsible for the successful completion of the two large projects that established a soil moisture probe network and initiated a fee-for-service arrangement with farmers to ensure the probe network is maintained.

Although the soil moisture probe network was capable of generating significant data, it was recognised that the adoption would be limited unless SFS could deliver soil moisture and temperature information in a way with was user friendly and decision useful for farmers.

Research collaboration with CeRDI was subsequently initiated by SFS to identify how the utility of soil moisture probe data across south-eastern Australia could be maximised by better understanding the decision support required by farmers and their advisors.

Pilot project identifying rural alcohol culture and change in the Wimmera

CeRDI has been commissioned to conduct research and to promote cultural change towards alcohol use for youth in Horsham. Under the research leadership of Dr Angela Murphy, this project has been funded through VicHealth’s Alcohol Culture Change Grants for Local Councils. Horsham Rural City Council (HRCC) was one of eight council’s state-wide to receive funding for a pilot study to assess alcohol culture and identify potential health interventions leading to cultural change and safer, reduced alcohol consumption for young people in the region.

Health Justice Partnership project

Stuck Health Justice for youth  

The Health Justice Partnership for Youth is a program delivering an integrated health justice service for young people in the Central Highlands, and has been operational since mid-2015. The collation of program data from research conducted by researchers at CeRDI and partner agencies is offering valuable insights about the impact of the program on young people in the region.

The Health Justice Partnership for Youth is a collaboration between CeRDI, Ballarat Community Health (BCH) and Central Highlands Community Legal Centre (CHCLC). It has been funded by a major grant from the Victorian Legal Services Board.

The program delivers an integrated medical and legal service with a lawyer from CHCLC based across all sites at BCH. The program provides early intervention for legal and health issues to improve the outcomes for disadvantaged young people experiencing multiple health and legal issues.

Staff profile

Dr Birgita Hansen, Research Fellow

Birgita Hansen  

Dr Birgita Hansen has research interests and expertise in improving the science and practice of restoration and the conservation of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. She has many years’ experience in the field of ornithology, specialising in waterbirds and wetlands. Her research has made an important contribution to policy and planning in fields of conservation genetics, management of streamside zones and waterbird conservation.

In her current role at CeRDI, Birgita is applying her experience to the development of spatial information systems for biodiversity knowledge management, climate adaptation, natural resource management and citizen science.

Birgita’s key projects include the recent re-development of the Waterwatch and EstuaryWatch. These citizen science programs aim to engage the community with waterway and estuary monitoring, and both play an important role in catchment planning. Birgita used her experience from stream and estuarine ecology to guide content management and data reporting. Working with her environmental research colleague Rob Milne and the CeRDI technical team, Birgita has contributed to the expansion of the NRM Planning Portal, SWIFFT and linked mapping portal, VVB. In collaboration with Faculty of Science and Technology vegetation researchers Nick Schultz and Megan Good, she has guided the development of a new portal for crowd-sourcing data on symptoms of tree health decline in South Australia (SA Tree Watch).


Higher Degrees by Research student: Thomas Hill

Thomas Hill’s research interests are centred on smart farming and social science, having graduated from the University of Adelaide in 2011 with a degree in Animal Science. Thomas then completed a research Honours year at University of Adelaide in 2013.

Thomas’ research topics were focused on parasitic infections in Australian livestock, originally working with horses and sheep during his Honours year. In 2014 Thomas moved to working on Atlantic salmon gill parasites in Tasmanian grown salmon. Since then, Thomas decided to follow his personal research interests and he is currently undertaking his PhD research through Federation University Australia and the University of Southern Queensland examining “Unheard farmers: perceptions and pressures of Australian farmers undergoing precision agriculture adoption”. Thomas is currently working closely with farming groups and senior university researchers to advance his research. He hopes to confirm his candidature early in 2017.


Postgraduate student news

Patrick Bonney recently commenced his PhD at CeRDI. Patrick is undertaking research examining the issue of citizen science and public policy. His research will involve working with volunteers, environmental groups and government and non-government agencies involved with the citizen science and natural resource management. Patrick will work closely with the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority to measure and explore the issues and opportunities of Waterwatch and EstuaryWatch programs.
Patrick studied at The University of Melbourne and has a Bachelor of Science (Zoology) and a Master of Science (Zoology). He has strong industry links with Melbourne Water and the EPA and has previously worked as an aquatic ecologist addressing the impacts of pollution in aquatic environments at the Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management (CAPIM).

The CeRDI supervisory team for Patrick are Dr Angela Murphy and Dr Birgita Hansen while, as the part of the Regional University Network Water Flagship, co-supervision will also be provided by Dr Claudia Baldwin from the University of the Sunshine Coast.

About CeRDI

The Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) is a research centre at Federation University Australia focused on:

  • the application of information and communications technology (ICT) and the development of innovative, world class knowledge management systems;
  • significantly advancing the digital literacy and knowledge management capabilities of partner organisations;
  • fostering partnerships for the development and implementation of eResearch with industry, government and academia; and
  • measuring the impact of eResearch and digital innovation through longitudinal research.

Contact CeRDI

For further details about CeRDI’s diverse portfolio of research please visit our website:, or contact Director, Associate Professor Helen Thompson:

Mailing Address

Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation
Federation University Australia
PO Box 691
Ballarat Vic 3353

Office Location

Suite 15, Greenhill Enterprise Centre
Ballarat Technology Park
University Drive
Mount Helen Vic 3350

Phone: +61 3 5327 9314
Fax: +61 3 5327 9895

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