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CeRDI Newsletter Summer 2018

Message from the Director

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Associate Professor
Helen Thompson


The New Year has commenced with a flurry of activity and the promise of yet another exciting year ahead in CeRDI.

Online Farm Trials, with funding support from the Grains Research and Development Corporation, is being expanded and enhanced during 2018 with substantial upgrades and activities planned.

Late last year we received funding from the Collier Charitable Trust to support two important projects: the Wimmera Information Portal and Spatial Connect. Funding will extend the breadth of both projects, one which has a regional focus and addressing disadvantage, and the other, supporting school students to use spatial technology within the geography curriculum.

CeRDI had a strong presence at the recent international Open Geospatial Consortium’s (OGC) Technical and Planning Committee. The OGC guides the development of international geospatial standards to achieve data interoperability. The event offered CeRDI team members Pete Dahlhaus, Andrew MacLeod and Bruce Simons an opportunity to contribute to core summit discussions in international agriculture and environment data exchange.

A new scoping project for the CRC for High Performance Soils is underway with CeRDI taking the lead role in managing the first stage of research. This research will contribute to new knowledge around farmers’ needs, and of data management methods for soil health indicators. The findings will also inform future research activities for the CRC.

CeRDI staff and associates continue to do well across a range of research-driven activities and awards. Nathan Robinson won the prestigious Soil Science Australia 2017 award for the best PhD for soil science, in Australia. A number of other staff and post graduate students in CeRDI are showcasing their research at conferences, and have had their papers included as published book chapters and journal articles.


Online Farm Trails: Significant new developments underway in 2018

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OFT Online Farm Trials


Online Farm Trials, which is led by a team of senior scientists, researchers and programmers at CeRDI, with funding support from the Grains Research and Development Corporation, is being expanded and enhanced during 2018.

Online Farm Trials (OFT) uses the latest technology to improve access to farm trial research in the Australian grains industry. The principle objective of OFT is to improve the profitability and sustainability of farming enterprises through access to trial research information.  Key features of the OFT project include:

  • Online analytical tools for growers, agronomists and researchers
  • Direct online access to trial research data in digital form with download capacity
  • Linking of other sources of relevant trial research information
  • Increased networking and collaboration on cropping issues and farm trial research

The OFT Trial Explorer ( makes it easy to  search and filter over 4,700 trial projects contributed by nearly 60 organisations nationwide.

OFT success has been achieved through a strong collaborative approach to engaging with grower groups, research organisations, agricultural experts and grains industry organisations. This ensures that the OFT project outcomes are highly relevant, practical and beneficial for the grains industry within Australia.

Collier Charitable Fund success

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Wimmera Information Portal


In late 2017, the Collier Charitable Fund awarded funding to two CeRDI projects, with Spatial Connect and the Wimmera Information Portal receiving a combined total of $80,000 in funds.

The Wimmera Information Portal (WIP) brings the social, health and community services in the Wimmera region together under the shared aim of addressing systemic regional disadvantage. The Collier Charitable funding for WIP, totalling $50,000, will support the enhancement and consolidation of the online portal that has already been developed as a demonstration model.

The WIP ( consolidates social, health and wellbeing datasets from key government agencies, not for profit organisations and community groups. The portal provides a single access point for data and offers a stronger platform from which to interrogate regional data. These advances will enable a holistic understanding across a range of the current and future issues for the Wimmera, further complementing regional decision making and enabling the implementation of community-wide strategies to address regional disadvantage.

Spatial Connect received $30,000 from the Collier Charitable Fund. Spatial Connect involves the development of resources to embed the application of spatial technology in the national geography and science curriculum for primary and secondary school students. The funding will provide access to the resources required to develop curriculum that is aligned with the real-world knowledge initiatives in areas including agriculture, the environment, geology hydrogeology, urban planning and natural disaster planning and recovery.

CeRDI attends Open Geospatial Consortium’s Technical and Planning Committee

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Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus


CeRDI was well represented at the recent Open Geospatial Consortium's (OGC) 105th Technical and Planning Committee (TC/PC) meeting in New Zealand in early December. CeRDI’s principal research fellow, Assoc Prof Peter Dahlhaus, together with Bruce Simons and Andrew MacLeod attended the prestigious meeting of international delegates which also included two associated meetings: Geographic Information / Geomatics Technical Committee of the International Standards Organisation, and the Australia-New Zealand Forum. Two summits were also organised to create opportunities for open participation by New Zealand organisations as well as engagement between local and international experts around the key topics of environment and agriculture.

The OGC is an international consortium of more than 525 companies, government agencies, research organisations, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available geospatial standards. OGC standards support interoperable solutions that ‘geo-enable’ the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT. OGC standards empower technology developers to make geospatial information and services accessible and useful within any application that is required to be geospatially enabled.

Legal Services Commission of South Australia: Law Handbook and Website launch

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Legal Services Commission of South Australia


Redevelopment work for the Legal Services Commission (LSC) of South Australia has recently been completed, culminating in the relaunch of the LSC online law handbook and website.

The new look law handbook and website reflect substantial updates, providing technology upgrades and a range of new features. The information available now includes consistent branding across both the law handbook and website. A range of enhancements have been made to improve the end user experience, enabling easier identification and access to the content offered by the LSC. 

Other features include enhanced graphics and slide gallery, access to social media and improvements in the delivery of online publications. In addition, the design functionality of the site has been enhanced to support all media devices.

CeRDI has worked collaboratively with the LSC, across a range of project, since 2007. The most recent collaboration has supported LSC in meeting a range of new requirements including improving the ease of use and ongoing maintenance for the law handbook and website.

CeRDI leads scoping project for CRC for High Performance Soils

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Soil CRC logo


A substantial scoping project to review the role and function of soil health and performance indicators to examine farmers’ needs and data management methods is currently being undertaken in CeRDI, under the leadership of Assoc Prof Peter Dahlhaus. CeRDI is leading one of eight scoping projects and is participating in four of the other scoping projects, funded by the Co-operative Research Centre for High Performance Soils (CRC-HPS).

In 2017, the Federal Government awarded $39.5 million over 10 years to the CRC-HPS to assist Australian farmers to make decisions on complex soil management issues. The aim of the CRC-HPS is to integrate research to provide farmers with the knowledge and tools they need to make decisions on extremely complex soil management issues. The CRC-HPS will bridge the gap between soil science and farm management. The CRC will also increase the level of innovation around Australia’s management, protection and value of soil assets. 

As a major participant in the CRC-HPS, CeRDI will contribute specialised computing, information analysis and data federating systems, using eResearch approaches. Interoperable technologies will also be used to enable greater exposure to the most current and comprehensive economic, environmental and social information and datasets while making the data available in other portals and applications.

CeRDI staff member wins prestigious national soil science award

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Research Fellow Nathan Robinson


Dr Nathan Robinson, a Senior Research Fellow at CeRDI, has received the prestigious 2017 CG Stephens award from Soil Science Australia. The award is granted to the best PhD for soil science across Australia.

Nathan completed his PhD at Federation University in 2016, conducting research focused on digital soil mapping. Entitled “Assessing productive soil-landscapes in Victoria using digital soil mapping” Nathan’s research, together with his collaborations with other scientists on the project, is considered revolutionary for its digital organisation of soil mapping for Victoria. It has also been showcased with the wider soils and agriculture industries for its breadth and contribution to digital data.

Nathan joined the CeRDI team in late 2017 after working for the Victorian government for 18 years in soil and landscape analysis.  Nathan’s role in CeRDI is closely linked to his PhD. He is currently working with CeRDI researchers, including one of his PhD supervisors, Assoc Prof Peter Dahlhaus, in the area of soil science and is conducting research on advancements to spatial analysis to better understand the links between soil and the agricultural production systems.


Central Highlands Health Justice Partnership: Project continuation

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STUCK Health Justice for Youth


The Central Highlands Health Justice Partnership (CHHJP), an important local program offering an integrated legal-health service for young people, has broadened its partnership base to include Youthlaw, who in addition to other existing partner agencies have made a commitment to jointly fund the program so that an expanded service can operate over the next twelve months.

This is an exciting new development for the program which was established after receiving major grant funding from the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner.  The CHHJP commenced operations in 2015 under the project leadership of Dr Marg Camilleri in collaboration with project partners Ballarat Community Health (BCH) and Central Highlands Community Legal Centre (CHCLC).

The CHHJP was established to target disadvantaged youth in the Central Highlands experiencing health issues arising from their legal problems. Such programs have been implemented across the world, for different target groups, with much success. The CHHJP provides early 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 across BCH sites.

Since commencement, the program has assisted over 130 young people in accessing support for their legal problems. Extensive promotional activities associated with the program has enabled it to receive wide regional exposure, resulting in strong referrals from external agencies.

Staff profile: Craig Briody, Web Developer

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 Craig Briody, Web Developer


Prior to working for CeRDI, Craig Briody completed a Bachelor of Computing at Federation University (formerly known as the University of Ballarat) and worked for eighteen months at a Melbourne-based software company gaining valuable practical experience in the ICT sector.

In August 2002, Craig joined CeRDI as a Technical Officer and in 2005 was promoted to the position of web developer on a full time basis, a position that Craig still holds today.

Craig specialises in the development and implementation of web-based projects, having significant experience in the development and delivery of comprehensive client training programs. Craig is an experienced web developer in PHP / Javascript and Bootstrap, and has a strong interest in responsive web designs.

During his early career at CeRDI, Craig was involved in the development and delivery of community and organisational-based website projects such as; the Moorabool Community Online project, the various Fitzroy Legal Service's web solutions, and the National Association of Community Legal Centres ( project.

Staff profile: Ben Wills, Research Fellow

Ben is a social scientist with a background in economics, human geography and management research. Ben commenced in CeRDI last year as a research fellow and conducts research and publishes on the social and economic impacts of digital agriculture initiatives. Ben is currently undertaking an audit of existing and future users of Online Farm Trials, contributing to the project design for future digital agriculture projects such as the Food Agility CRC, and integrating economic impact methodologies into CeRDI impact assessment work.

Prior to working at CeRDI Ben was employed on the ARC funded Pathways to Market Industrial transformation hub project at the University of Tasmania where he used Value Chain Analysis to measure the impact of information systems integration in two, high value Australian food chains. As a mixed methods social scientist, Ben uses both qualitative and quantitative methods to explore the value creation implications of technology driven practice change for food producers and consumers.

Ben was awarded his PhD in 2014 from the School of Business and Economics at University of Tasmania. His PhD research investigated how e-commerce dependent business models within the local/organic food sector are impacting consumer access issues. As a result of this research Ben has published in the Journal of Agriculture and Human Values and the Journal of Food Policy. In addition to his academic research, Ben co-founded Tasmania's largest retail food co-operative, Source Community Wholefoods, and has worked as a consultant on a number of local food system development projects in Australia and in the United Kingdom.

CeRDI news snippets

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Book Chapter: CeRDI’s Dr Birgita Hansen has co-authored a chapter for a recently released book on monitoring threatened species. The chapter prepared by Birgita and colleagues is on shorebird monitoring and citizen science. An overview of the book, ‘Monitoring threatened species and ecological communities’ is available at the CSIRO publishing website:

Conference Presentation: Dr Birgita Hansen and CeRDI PhD student Pat Bonney attended the Australian Citizen Science Conference in Adelaide, 7 – 9 February.  Birgita presented at the conference on the National WaterbugBlitz: Citizens assessing Australian waterways.

Sport and Recreation Spatial: 2017 VicHealth Award: Federation University and Victoria University’s Sport and Recreation Spatial has received a 2017 VicHealth award for the category ‘Research into Action’.  The award for the Sport Participation Research project is for its analysis and reporting on data from 12 sports to state sporting organisations, state government and VicHealth.  The award was announced during a ceremony in Melbourne in December. Congratulations to Assoc Prof Rochelle Eime and the Sport and Recreation Spatial Team on this latest achievement. For more information about these awards and finalists visit:

CeRDI staff updates: CeRDI welcome two new staff members, Dr Imogen Schwarz and Peter Codd. Imogen will be leading the Youth CAN project and will be based in Horsham. Peter will be supporting the Natural Resource Management Planning Portal through his knowledge of legacy data and landscape change in south west Victoria since the inception of LandCare.  Judi Walters is also returning to CeRDI support for the Online Farm Trials research.


Postgraduate student news

PhD data collection: Alison Ollerenshaw has commenced data collection for her PhD research examining the relationship between incubator support services and the psychological capital of tenants. Alison is currently recruiting tenants from business incubators worldwide to complete an online survey. If you can help or if you want more information about this research contact Alison:

Industry internship: Over the last few months, PhD student David Ebbs has been undertaking an industry internship with City West Water culminating in the production of a report titled ‘Melbourne Sewerage Strategy – Sustainable Resource Use’.  The report outlines over 30 potential uses for resources from the sewer under five broad categories: water, energy, other chemicals and nutrients, using the sewer for greater waste disposal and use of sewerage assets for other purposes.  The report which is currently under review provides important information for the overall Melbourne Sewerage Strategy which will be delivered in September 2018 by Melbourne Water. David’s internship was facilitated by the Australian Mathematical and Sciences Institute.

Conference papers:  Federation University’s water engineering research has been recognised by the international water community with the attendance of CeRDI PhD student David Ebbs, together with Faculty of Science and Technology’s Andrew Barton and Harpreet Kandra, at the WSUD (Water Sensitive Urban Design) and Hydropolis 2018 international conference in Perth, 12 – 16 February 2018.  David presented two papers at the conference:

  • Ebbs, D., P. Dahlhaus, A. Barton and H. Kandra (2018). Losing Stormwater: 60 Years of Urbanisation and Reduced Downstream Flow. WSUD 2018 & Hydropolis 2018. 'Creating Water Sensitive Cities'. 10th International Conference on Water Sensitive Urban Design. February 12th – 15th Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
  • Ebbs, D., P. Dahlhaus, A. Barton and H. Kandra (2018). Exploring a Flow Regime and its Historical Changes Downstream of an Urbanised Catchment. WSUD 2018 & Hydropolis 2018. 'Creating Water Sensitive Cities'. 10th International Conference on Water Sensitive Urban Design. February 12th – 15th Perth, Western Australia, Australia.

Journal publication: David Ebbs has co-authored a paper published in the international journal ‘Water Policy’:

  • Ebbs, D., P. Dahlhaus, A. Barton and H. Kandra (2018). "An unexpected decrease in urban water demand: making discoveries possible by taking a long-term view." Water Policy. wp2018096; DOI: 10.2166/wp.2018.096. 

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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