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CeRDI Newsletter Winter 2020

Message from the Director

Associate Professor Helen Thompson  

Associate Professor
Helen Thompson


Working with data is central to the research that CeRDI conducts. Data capture and data sharing through online platforms provides the foundation to enable discoveries that can build new knowledge and improve decision making to enhance current practices. For CeRDI, data discoveries are facilitated through the data platforms and portals that we develop in collaboration with a host of partners, and in accessing this data to research and improve outcomes. Across the key themes of Agriculture, the Natural Environment, Health and Wellbeing and others, CeRDI is contributing to important insights informed by data, and the discoveries that can be achieved through data federation and dissemination.

A presentation about open access to research data for the Australian agriculture sector was facilitated by CeRDI researchers during an online presentation to mark Open Access Week 2020. The presentation by CeRDI’s Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus, Drs Nathan Robinson and Megan Wong shared insights about the value of data access and sharing that are transferrable to other disciplines. Key points for discussion during the presentation included the social architecture for data (governance, ownership/privacy of data, open access models, stewardship, licences, FAIR, trusted repositories) that has been informed by CeRDI’s growing knowledge and experience with data and research discoveries.


LitterWatch Victoria 

LitterWatch Victoria logo  

LitterWatch Victoria Logo


A successful collaboration between Federation University’s Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has culminated in the development and launch of LitterWatch Victoria. LitterWatch is an online portal that collates public, statewide datasets of litter in Victoria that can be easily visualised and is readily used for reporting, planning, policy making and engagement. The project is a direct response to the growing challenges of litter and plastic pollution that communities are experiencing.

The management of litter is a strategic priority under the Port Phillip Bay Environment Management Plan , with litter clean-up estimated to cost over $94 million annually. Since 2017, the Port Phillip Bay fund has invested over $2.7 million in litter monitoring. The online portal was designed and created to assist in identifying the different monitoring programs, and to secure the collated data. Litterwatch is intended to support the development of a litter baseline, and other activities under the Port Phillip Bay Environmental Management Plan , including plastic pollution policies .  The portal has reporting functionality and program analysis, which is enabling data on litter hotspots across Port Phillip Bay to be accessed by the general public. 

Zoos Victoria Moth Tracker

Zoos Victoria Fighting Extinction Moth Tracker website  

Zoos Victoria Fighting Extinction
Moth Tracker website


The partnership between CeRDI and Zoos Victoria has become firmly established over recent years following the development of technologies that support citizen science initiatives associated with wildlife conservation. Zoos Victoria continues its collaboration with CeRDI through the extension of a multi-year Bogong Moth Tracker citizen science project.

The Bogong Moth Tracker, which is hosted on the State Wide Flora and Fauna Teams (SWIFFT) website, is an online application that enables members of the public to upload sightings of the bogong moth during their seasonal, spring migration from Queensland, New South Wales and western Victoria to the alpine regions of Victoria. Moth sightings inform research, providing researchers with data that can increase the understanding of the moth’s migration. In turn, this can assist in identifying factors, such as the availability of food for the possums.

Bogong Moths are an essential food source for the Mountain Pygmy-possum and reduced food availability is thought to be contributing to the declining population of Mountain Pygmy-possums. The possum is currently listed as ‘Endangered’ under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. New knowledge from the Tracker will be used to inform decision making about future conservation and recovery efforts. This small marsupial, which is native to south-eastern Victoria, has been included in Zoos Victoria conservation program to support local wildlife under threat from extinction.

Hyper Yielding Crops

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Hyper Yielding Crops


A major agriculture initiative has recently commenced with the aim of maximising cropping yields in high rainfall areas. Funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) under the leadership of the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR), the Hyper Yielding Crops project will inform the setting of attainable grain yield targets in regions where there is the potential for high yield cropping.

Conducted over the next five years, the project will establish five GRDC Centres of Excellence for research, development and extension hubs. These will be in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. A series of Focus Farms and Award sites associated with each Centre of Excellence will be established for demonstration, comparison, and extension of crop management practices for optimising yield.

CeRDI is developing the online data management and reporting platform for the Focus Farms and Award sites in partnership with key collaborators including FAR, Techcrop, and four farming groups: Southern Farming Systems (in Tasmania and Victoria), MacKillop Farm Management Group (in South Australia), Riverine Plains Inc. (in New South Wales), and Stirlings to Coast Farmers (in Western Australia).

Energy Data Roadmap

Energy Data Roadmap  

Collaboration on the Energy Data Roadmap, between Federation University’s School of Engineering, Information Technology and Physical Sciences and CeRDI culminated in the completion of the final report and presentation. Funded by the Centre for New Energy Technologies (C4NET), the project commenced earlier this year with the aim of better understanding the availability of energy data (consumption data) in Victoria.

 The project led by Federation University’s Associate Professor Feng Xia guided the research and final report with detailed discussion informed by the desktop and research activities about new energy technologies for the sector. The desktop research comprised a comprehensive review of current energy trends, influences and drivers. Major initiatives in the energy, research and government sectors were identified and documented. CeRDI was instrument in data collection (surveys and interviews) from key stakeholders from the energy industry. Survey and interview data provided new insights about the energy data landscape, and identified barriers and inefficiencies pertaining to energy data. Opportunities for improved access to energy data were also explored through the research. Key insights have been presented and consolidated in a report for C4NET to assist in informing their work and future priorities for improvements to energy data flows in Victoria.

A presentation about the research findings was delivered by Associate Professor Feng and CeRDI’s Alison Ollerenshaw to the C4NET Technical Advisory Panel committee meeting in late September.

Virtual Honour Roll

Ballarat RSL Website  

Ballarat RSL Website


CeRDI has commenced a project with the Ballarat RSL to establish a virtual Honour Roll to record the men and women from Ballarat and surrounding districts that enlisted during World War II. Funded by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs through the Commemorative Grants program, this project will ensure public access to information about residents who served during World War II.

CeRDI will develop the web platform to host the honour board data that will be embedded within the existing Ballarat RSL website. Key functionality for the website will include an information display, with search functions (name, location, unit, date), and the facility for user contributions (text, images).

Until now, the names of Ballarat residents who served in World War II were available only as a hard copy. The development of a virtual honour roll will allow family members of the service personnel and other members of the public to access details about those that served, including the service number, name, rank and branch of service, and enlistment dates. Additional features planned for the website will enable the placing of a virtual poppy against names on the Honour Roll.

This project will contribute new insights about the significant contribution that this region’s men and women made during World War II. The project will involve close liaison with Ballarat RSL, with data to be sourced from the Shrine of Remembrance and the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

The project will be completed during 2021.



CeRDI PhD student Chris Bahlo recently completed in the GovHack challenge. GovHack is an annual competition that focusses on open data projects developed by individuals or teams with the aim of developing inventive, problem-solving applications using open government data sets.

Chris’s submission involved concept development for an animal welfare application for collating data, submitted by the public, about livestock welfare threats in Victoria. Citizen science and open agricultural datasets were combined to support the concept. The GovHack submission was recently ‘highly commended’ by the event organisers.

The concept application that Chris designed for this year’s competition would support citizen scientists in entering welfare issues or threats to farm animal, including horses. Chris’s application provides a basic map and interface to represent how a full-size application would work. The contribution of such an app would offer a central location for reporting incidents, which can serve as warnings to other livestock owners. Over time, the data could be used to increase understanding of combinations of environmental factors that affect livestock welfare for different classes of animals.

CeRDI News Snippets

University Research Centre planning

Planning has commenced to establish CeRDI as a University Research Centre (URC). Internal discussions outlining CeRDI membership, cross-centre collaborations, lighthouse programs and early career researchers has commenced. Project leaders and researchers from across Federation schools and campuses attended a workshop in late August to advance the co-development of lighthouse projects for the CeRDI URC. The workshop was well attended, and plans to progress projects and associated activities were documented. Milestones towards research centre status are continuing, with updates to be shared in future issues of the newsletter.

Webinar: Open access to Australian research data: use cases in agriculture

CeRDI’s Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus and Drs Nathan Robinson and Megan Wong presented to staff and students of Federation University on 21 October about the opportunities and learnings for other disciplines using agriculture use-cases. The presentation illustrated different access arrangements aligning to different needs of data owners, custodians, federators and users. The presentation was arranged by the eResearch Advisory Committee to celebrate Open Access Week 2020, and included consideration of the value proposition, social architecture and technical architecture for open access data.

CeRDI Postgraduate News

Theses submitted for examination

Congratulations to Pat Bonney who submitted his PhD thesis for examination at the end of August. Pat’s thesis, titled ‘Citizen science: Knowledge, networks and the boundaries of participation’, is about citizen science and social research in relation to Waterwatch, community-based freshwater monitoring and environmental governance. Pat commenced his PhD in CeRDI and the School of Science, Psychology and Sport in 2016 under the supervision of Dr Angela Murphy, Birgita Hansen and Associate Professor Claudia Baldwin. Pat’s research was supported by the Regional University Networks (RUN) Water Futures Fund. For further information about Pat’s research see

Confirmation of Candidature

Dr Basharat Ali successfully completed his confirmation of candidature in late July. Basharat presented an overview of his PhD research titled ‘Precision conservation agricultural practices and agriculture performance: The mediating and moderating roles of FAIR data and resilient practices’ at the meeting. Completion of confirmation of candidature represents is a significant milestone during the first year of a PhD project. Basharat is supervised by CeRDI’s Associate Professors Peter Dahlhaus and Helen Thompson, and Dr Nathan Robinson. Basharat’s research is supported by industry partners: Precision Agriculture Pty Ltd and the Food Agility CRC. For further information about Basharat’s PhD see

Rob Clark successfully completed his confirmation of candidature in October for his PhD research titled ‘Predicting crop yield within the growing season at sub-paddock scale: A big data approach’. Rob's research involves the development of a model to accurately predict wheat, barley and canola yield prior to harvest, across the main cropping zones in Australia. An extensive set of historic (and recent) yield monitor data will be used to calibrate and then validate the model at sub-paddock scale so that it could potentially be aggregated to regional and national scale. Rob is supervised by CeRDI’s Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus and Dr Nathan Robinson. Rob’s research is supported by industry partner: Grains Research & Development Corporation. For more information about Rob’s research see

Theses completion

Dr Alison Ollerenshaw has now completed the requirements of the PhD following minor modifications to the thesis as requested by one of the examiners. Alison submitted her thesis titled ‘The relationship between business incubator services and the psychological capital of tenants’ for examination in late 2019. Her supervisory team included Dr Angela Murphy, Professor Suzanne McLaren, and Associate Professor Helen Thompson. Alison’s research was supported by CeRDI, and industry partners: Melton City Council and Western BACE. For more information about Alison’s research visit

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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