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CeRDI Newsletter Spring 2018

Message from the Director

Associate Professor Helen Thompson  

Associate Professor
Helen Thompson


Welcome to another issue of the CeRDI Newsletter.

Collaboration with industry and research partners on a range of innovative projects, outputs and PhD student opportunities is evident across all the stories featured in this issue of the CeRDI newsletter.

Numerous projects that CeRDI has been contributing to, with key partners, over recent months and years have come to fruition with successful outputs now available. The national launch of the Native Fish Report Card, the finalisation of the learning resources for Spatial Connect, the re-launch of the SWIFFT portal and the Beach Usage Report for the Barwon Coast Beach Usage research project have all been completed following successful collaborations. 

CeRDI has recently advertised four PhD scholarships for projects linked to the Centre. All four scholarship opportunities could only have been achieved with the commitment and value attributed to research by our project partners.

Collaboration with partners has facilitated a range of developments associated with new and existing CeRDI projects.  Zoos Victoria is partnering with CeRDI on a new research initiative, while developments on existing projects including the Centre Highlands Health Justice Partnership provide the opportunity for important new learnings. The Visualising Australasia’s Soil project that CeRDI will be leading has also received substantial funding from the Soil CRC.

CeRDI will continue to develop new collaborations and foster research partnerships. Should you have a research idea that might benefit from collaboration with CeRDI please get in contact. 

Associate Professor Helen Thompson
Director, CeRDI
November 2018

Soil CRC: Investment for New Research

Soil CRC: Investment for New Research  

Soil CRC: Investment in new research


CeRDI has recently been successful in a major investment round for the Soil Co-operative Research Centre (CRC). The Visualising Australasia’s Soils: A Soil CRC cloud-based research data federation was awarded $514,800 over two years, with $398,800 of this amount allocated to Federation University.

CeRDI’s Associate Prof Peter Dahlhaus will provide leadership for this project following his role, earlier in 2018, in coordinating CRC workshops on Soil Performance Metrics and providing a review of the indicators of soil health and function: farmers’ needs and data management.

CeRDI is a major participant in the Soil CRC (officially, the CRC for High Performance Soils) which was awarded $39.5 million from Federal Government over 10 years to help Australian farmers make decisions on complex soil management issues. Awarded in 2017, the CRC is designed to optimise productivity, yield and profitability and ensure long-term sustainability of farming businesses.


Native Fish Report Card: Ministerial Launch

Native Fish Report Card: Ministerial Launch  

Native Fish Report Card: Ministerial Launch


The Native Fish Report Card Program was officially launched by Minister for Water, Lisa Neville and Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford on 5 October 2018.

This three-year collaboration between the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) and CeRDI, will keep anglers and communities informed on the results of scientific fish surveys.

CeRDI Research Fellow Dr Birgita Hansen and CeRDI systems analysts, programmers and web developers provided research and technical expertise in consulting, designing and implementing the interactive portal.

By accessing the Native Fish Report Card portal users will be able to view report cards on recreational and non-recreational native freshwater fish in Victoria.  The report cards provide an overview of the health of targeted species and encourage informed and responsible fishing choices for anglers.

Spatial Connect

Spatial Connect  

Historic Urban Landscapes(HUL)


CeRDI recently completed work on the Spatial Connect project, in which it collaborated with the Geography Teacher’s Association of Victoria (GTAV). The project has seen the development of curriculum resources for the geography and science curriculum for primary and secondary school students through the application and use of spatial technology. 

The project culminated in the development of six open access online learning resources. Each of these resources draws on websites and data sets that are currently used by government, industry and communities to build and share knowledge on key issues and to help shape decision making. The learning resources are aligned with the Victorian and Australian curriculums and were developed in 2017 and 2018 by GTAV writers and CeRDI scientists working collaboratively to complete and trial the resources. Each of these resources is aimed at building student skills in the application of spatial technology, mapping and the use of big data within the context of contemporary issues.

The areas for which learning resources have been developed include:

Place and Liveability – This resource draws on the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) website which is dedicated to providing local and regional communities with information about Ballarat’s distinctive history and culture. Using the HUL portal, and the learning resource that has been developed for Place and Liveability, students will be able to build a knowledge base around the type of factors that impact on the liveability of a location.

Statewide Flora and Fauna Teams Portal Relaunch

Statewide Flora and Fauna Teams Portal Relaunch  

Statewide Flora and Fauna Teams Portal 


The State Wide Integrated Flora and Fauna Teams (SWIFFT) portal, hosted by CeRDI, has been undergoing a major update in 2018 and has recently been relaunched. 

Since 2004, SWIFFT has provided a platform for discovery, information sharing and initiatives relating to threatened species and biodiversity conservation in the state of Victoria.

Evolving from a Wiki page at its inception to today’s comprehensive, interactive website SWIFFT draws together data and contributions from ecologists, citizen scientists and environmental stakeholders at all levels from community through to government.


Barwon Coast Beach Project Update 

Barwon Coast Beach Project Update  

Barwon Coast Beach 


Transformations of coastal communities and coastal environments has been the focus of a CeRDI-led research study commissioned by the Barwon Coast Committee of Management (BCCM).

Following on from the launch of the Share Our Shores Campaign by BCCM in November 2017, the study focused on the coastal reserves of Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads and used qualitative and quantitative research methods to gain new and unique insights into a range of issues. As a result of the study, there is a stronger evidence base in place relating to the characteristics of beach usage, community perceptions of beach usage constraints, notions of equitable access to beaches, environmental and beach management concerns and notions of community identity. 

The research applied a social research methodology and data was gathered through the mechanisms of community surveys, focus group interviews, written submissions and personal narrative accounts. In total, the CeRDI research team worked with over 1800 research participants and these data were analysed to produce the Barwon Coast Coastal Management and Beach Usage Research report. This report provides significant insights into community attitudes, stakeholder knowledge bases, actions and behaviours alongside analysis of existing coastal management strategies.  The report outlines nine key recommendations for the BCCM to take up as targeted coastal management strategies.

New Citizen Science Partnership with Zoos Victoria

Staff in CeRDI’s Natural Environment research area have established an eResearch Collaboration with Zoos Victoria to enhance data capture and citizen science engagement for the Zoos’ Fighting Extinction program.

The Fighting Extinction program, which aims to prevent the loss of threatened wildlife, currently includes local and international conservation campaigns and research, as well as public education programs, captive breeding and re-introduction and support of wildlife recovery teams.

HUL Ballarat: Town Hall Audio Tour  

HUL Ballarat: Town Hall Audio Tour  

HUL Ballarat: Town Hall Audio Tour  



CeRDI has been working with the City of Ballarat to develop and deploy new content for the Historic Urban Landscapes (HUL) Ballarat website about the Ballarat Town Hall.

CeRDI’s Craig Briody has been working with the City of Ballarat’s Catherine McLay and Dimity Mapstone to develop history and heritage content in the form of an audio tour about the Town Hall entitled ‘If these walls could talk…’

Ballarat Town Hall is over 150 years old and was constructed during the city’s gold rush days, in the 1850s. Its history has spanned many decades and is a lasting architectural edifice reflecting the City’s growth and development, playing a pivotal role in many of the City’s grand occasions. Thousands of visitors have passed through its walls, including dignitaries, celebrities and civil servants – further contributing to the depth and richness of its history.

Central Highlands Health Justice Partnership

Central Highlands Health Justice Partnership  

Central Highlands Health Justice Partnership


The Central Highlands Health Justice Partnership (CHHJP) is an important local program. It offers intervention for young people experiencing multiple health and legal issues through the delivery of an integrated medical and legal service, with a youth lawyer, based at sites across Ballarat Community Health and other service sites (with flexibility to meet with young people in other locations).

The CHHJP commenced in 2015 following a major grant from the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner. The project offer services in the region under the project leadership of Dr Marg Camilleri and CeRDI and in collaboration with project partners Ballarat Community Health (BCH), and Central Highlands Community Legal Centre (CHCLC). Youthlaw, a Specialist state-wide Community Legal Centre, joined the partnership in 2018. The CHHJP partnership, with support most recently from the Victoria Law Foundation, are jointly funding the program to ensure the service continues to operate through into 2019. Research is continuing to be conducted alongside the project ensuring the learnings are being captured to inform service provision, and research for the industry.

Monitoring Threatened Species wins Whitley Award for Conservation Zoology

The newly released conservation management book title Monitoring Threatened Species and Ecological Communities, edited by Sarah Legge, David B. Lindenmayer, Natasha M. Robinson et al was recently awarded a Whitley Award Commendation for Conservation Zoology.

The CSIRO-published volume contains contributions from 65 authors, including CeRDI Research Fellow Dr Birgita Hansen. Dr Hansen and co-authors contributed a chapter entitled “Shorebird monitoring in Australia: a successful long-term collaboration among citizen scientists, governments and researchers”, which charts shorebird monitoring in Australia from its origins in the 1950s and 1960s through to its impact on policy development and on-ground conservation actions.

Postgraduate Update and Scholarships 

Five PhD students will be commencing in CeRDI in 2019. This will bring the total number of students in CeRDI to 11. It is anticipated that up to three current PhD students will be submitting their theses for examination during 2019. Details of the new CeRDI higher degree research projects are outlined below.

Examining the social and ecosystem factors defining coastal environments
Elissa Ashton-Smith has been selected to commence a PhD around establishing a knowledge base into the social and ecosystem factors defining coastal environments and the correlation of these to coastal management and eco-protection challenges. Building on an existing research partnership between Barwon Coast Committee and CeRDI, the proposed research will consolidate complex and disparate views on coastal use and management available through baseline data captured within this partnership during early 2018. Elissa will commence her studies in February 2019.

Groundwater Systems of Timor-Leste
Valente Ferreira has been selected to commence a PhD where the main objectives of this research include deeply understand the groundwater system of Timor-Leste, through the detailed mapping and investigation for groundwater potential areas and its features, such as bores, springs, discharge zones that correlating with the regional geology and topography of Timor-Leste; establishing the conceptual models of the hydrogeology and groundwater system of Timor-Leste and identifying which aquifer systems are priorities for groundwater management requirements. This PhD is supported by the Alfredo Pires Scholarship in Geology. Valente will be supervised by Assoc Professor Peter Dahlhaus, Dr Stephen Carey and Dr Matthew Currell (RMIT University).

Industry partner: The Alfredo Pires Scholarship

Birdlife in Agricultural Landscapes Journal Publication

Birdlife in Agricultural Landscapes Journal Publication  

Agriculture, Ecosystems & Enviroment


The impact of livestock grazing on woodland and non-woodland bird species is the subject of a recent journal publication in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, led by CeRDI Research Fellow Birgita Hansen.  

The article, entitled “Livestock grazing effects on riparian bird breeding behaviour in agricultural landscapes”, presents the results of intensive bird breeding surveys conducted in riparian zones, subject to differing levels of grazing, in the Longwood Plains and the Victorian Riverina bioregion in north-central Victoria.

The study draws on data from two consecutive years of field survey, and formed the basis of Dr Hansen’s Collaborative Research Network post-doctoral research program completed with Federation University in 2012-2014. 

National Landcare Program - Smart Farming Partnership

Southern Farming Systems has been awarded funding through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. Entitled Building the resilience and profitability of cropping and grazing farmers in the high rainfall zone of Southern Australia the project involves input and collaboration from CeRDI and other consortium members including Farming Groups, industry bodies, private enterprise and the Victorian Government.

The National Landcare Program grants have been implemented to address the pressures on Australia’s national resources, limiting primary production in industries including agriculture, forestry, fishery and aquaculture. The overarching aim of the grants is to develop, trial and implement new technologies and practices that support the uptake of sustainable agriculture practices to protect and improve the condition of soils, vegetation and biosecurity across our agricultural, fishing, aquaculture and farm forestry industries.

Staff profile: Nathan Robinson, Senior Research Fellow, CeRDI

Nathan Robinson, Senior Research Fellow, CeRDI  

Dr Nathan Robinson


Dr Nathan Robinson is a Senior Research Fellow in Soil Science with CeRDI. Nathan is working both with the Online Farm Trials project as well as with other scientists and researchers from CeRDI on the Co-Operative Research Centre (CRC) for High Performance Soils. Nathan joined CeRDI after working in soil and landscape analysis for 18 years in the Victorian government. Here he led numerous land resource assessment projects in Victoria for the Corangamite, Wimmera and Goulburn Broken CMA regions.

In 2009, Nathan led a state initiative on improving soil health and understanding the impacts of farming systems on soil condition. This included managing the Victorian network of Long Term Agro-ecological Experiments (LTAEs - More recently 
Nathan has been a lead researcher in the use of proximal sensors and rapid sensing techniques in the assessment of soil properties and links to crop yield.

CeRDI news snippets

CeRDI research planning day 2018  

CeRDi Staff 2018


Research Planning Day 

In early November, all CeRDI staff participated in the planning day with the aim of establishing research strategies to assist with guiding the Centre in its research activities for the next 5-years.
Staff contributed widely to the discussions on the day, with valuable new directions identified that will now lead the research focus and strategies for CeRDI across its core themes. The new strategies for the Centre have been documented and will be integrated within the Centre’s website in coming weeks.      







About CeRDI

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