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CeRDI Newsletter Winter 2017

Message from the Director

Associate Professor - Helen Thompson  

Associate Professor
Helen Thompson


I am delighted to share the latest news from CeRDI.

In August we officially commenced a three-year research collaboration with Precision Agriculture to accelerate the adoption of precision farming techniques. With new and innovative methods for digital agricultural advancements planned over three distinct project phases, this collaboration will enable farmers, agronomists and researchers with new learnings and improved methods for farming productivity across Australia.

Also during August, CeRDI and its project partners were awarded funding from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, as part of the Inspiring Australia – Science Engagement Program. Funding will be used to implement the National WaterbugBlitz, an important citizen science project for communities to engage with and build skills and knowledge about freshwater habitats and biodiversity.


Precision Agriculture multi-year research partnership to advance agribusiness

Precision Agriculture is one of Australia’s most experienced agriculture technology providers. Recently, the company has initiated a three-year research collaboration with Federation University (Federation University) to accelerate the adoption of precision farming techniques in Australia.

Precision Agriculture multi-year research partnership to advance agribusiness

Precision Agriculture multi-year research partnership to advance agribusiness



Citizen science grant success for CeRDI and partners

CeRDI and partners Waterwatch, Corangamite CMA, Envirocom Connections and The Waterbug Company have been awarded funding from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science as part of the Inspiring Australia – Science Engagement Program.

The National WaterbugBlitz: citizens assessing Australian waterways was announced alongside four other projects as successful recipients. It is one of only 18 successfully funded projects, selected from a large pool of applications nationally.


Spatial Connect

Spatial Connect is a project established through collaboration between CeRDI and the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria Inc. (GTAV).

Spatial Connect involves the development of curriculum resources through the application and use of spatial technology for the geography and science curriculum for primary and secondary school students. Through this project, curriculum and resources are linked to their real-world application in agriculture, environment, geology and hydrogeology, urban planning and natural disaster planning and recovery. Real-world knowledge resources will also enable students to develop an understanding of industry, social, community and environmental issues.


CeRDI research planning day

In early August CeRDI held a research planning day for staff and higher degree by research (HDR) students, with the theme of the day to address CeRDI growth while maintaining culture, and to consolidate and grow CeRDI’s capabilities to achieve its future goals.

CeRDI Staff 2017

CeRDI Staff at the August 2017 research planning day. Back row (left to right): Jennifer Corbett, Peter Plucinski, Angela Neyland, Patrick Bonney, David Ebbs, Chris Bahlo, Scott Limmer, Drew Collins, Sudeera Abeywickrema, Shirish Sharma, Himalaya Singh, Kathy Gamble, and Peter Dahlhaus. Front row (left to right): Andrew MacLeod, Craig Briody, Birgita Hansen, Megan Wong, Robert Milne, Nicholas Bradsworth, Paul Feely, Meghan Taylor, Judith Walters, and Helen Thompson.


Dementia Care in Hospitals Program

Dementia Care in Hospitals Program  

The Dementia Care in Hospitals Program (DCHP) aims to improve the care of patients with cognitive impairment within the acute hospital setting. The program, led by Associate Professor Mark Yates, was first introduced at Ballarat Health Services (BHS) in 2003.

Cognitive impairment includes a range of thinking and memory difficulties, and is often unrecognised despite affecting up to one-third of hospital patients. This leads to higher rates of adverse outcomes.

The DCHP promotes practice change through education that aims to improve the awareness of cognitive impairment and promote communication with patients with this condition. Associated education resources promote an all-of-hospital approach, with tailored education for both clinical and non-clinical staff to improve the support, communication and care of patients with cognitive impairment.

Exploring the value, extent and scope of proponent environmental impact assessment (EIA) data under the EPBC Act

This collaborative project between CSIRO Land and Water, CeRDI and ThinkPlace aims to explore proponent data generation as part of the referral process under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The primary goal is to understand the value and nature of environmental impact assessment (EIA) data and their potential for reuse in other areas of government decision making.

The EPBC Act is the key piece of national legislation for the protection of biodiversity and the environment. It is administered by the Australian Government Department of Energy and Environment. Project development proposals that have potential to impact matters listed under the Act are referred to the Environment Minister for determination. There are nine Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES); the two most commonly assessed are (1) nationally threatened species and ecological communities, and (2) migratory species.

CeRDI appointments: Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Program and GRDC Panel for Expert Consultancy Services

Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Program and GRDC Panel for Expert Consultancy Services  

CeRDI has recently been appointed to two significant national programs. Firstly, as a consultant to the Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Program being delivered by Southern Cross University, on behalf of the Australian Government. Through its appointment CeRDI hopes to work on opportunities across a range of services in conjunction with farmers and farmer groups to conduct needs assessments, standardised expert support, customised expert support and case management. Co-operatives and other collaborative business arrangements will assist farmers to own and control more of the food supply chain themselves, delivering greater returns at the farm gate. The Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Program will enable farmers to access knowledge and resources on different collaborative arrangements that work for their business. This appointment is until 2018.

CeRDI has also been appointed to Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) panel for Expert Consultancy Services. This appointment offers a range of new and exciting opportunities for CeRDI to work collaboratively with GRDC. To fulfil its panel requirements, CeRDI will consult with GRDC to develop reporting milestones for each project. CeRDI will outline services it can perform for GRDC through this role. This includes strategic planning for digital agriculture research, development and extension, web-based spatial information and knowledge portals, decision support tools for agriculture, digital tools and platforms to advance precision agriculture adoption and longitudinal impact research to understand how digital innovation achieves sustained practice change across the agriculture sector. This appointment is for three years and extends the current, well established relationship that CeRDI has with GRDC and through the Online Farm Trials ( and Online Final Reports (

For further information about these or other CeRDI activities contact Director, Associate Professor Helen Thompson:

Health Justice Partnership: project extension

Stuck Health Justice for Youth  

STUCK Health Justice for Youth


The CeRDI-led Health Justice Partnership for Youth is an integrated health justice service for young people in the Central Highlands that has been extended until December 2017.

The program, which represents a collaboration between CeRDI, Ballarat Community Health (BCH) and Central Highlands Community Legal Centre (CHCLC) delivers an integrated medical and legal service with a lawyer from CHCLC based across BCH sites. The program provides early intervention for legal and health issues to improve the outcomes for disadvantaged young people experiencing multiple health and legal issues.

Project leader, Federation University’s Margaret Camilleri commented on the importance of the extension of this project, “The commitment of project partners to extend the program ensures the valuable work being undertaken with young people through the program, continues. We are currently exploring options to ensure the program extends beyond 2017 enabling this integral service to continue into the longer term”.

CeRDI news snippets

New Staff in CeRDI: CeRDI has recently appointed three new staff to join its team. Dr Megan Wong, Dr Angela Newland and Bruce Simons have all been appointed to research roles within the Centre.

Megan joins CeRDI after completing her PhD investigating soil biology with vegetation and land use change across the Riverine Plains of Victoria. Megan is assisting with research activities linked to the Precision Agriculture partnership.

Bruce Simons has spent 30 years working in the geosciences as a geophysicist, mostly with the Northern Territory and Victorian geological surveys. Bruce has spent the last six years of his career working for CSIRO collaborating with organisations to develop groundwater, soil, marine, gazetteer, water quality, native vegetation, and electricity and water utility data exchange standards. Bruce will be assisting CeRDI engagement in international collaborations including Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) data access standards in areas including soil and agriculture.

Angela is a geo-archaeologist with a strong background in cultural heritage in research and consultancy. Angela is assisting the CeRDI team on a range of projects including Visualising Victoria’s Groundwater.


  FAVeR and ANDS workshop

FAVer and ANDS workshop


FAVeR and ANDS workshop: CeRDI’s Associate Professor Pete Dahlhaus presented at the Federation for the Advancement of Victorian eResearch (FAVeR) and Australian National Data Service (ANDS) co-sponsored workshop entitled ‘Increasing the value of your data: lessons learned from sharing collections. Pete’s presentation explored soils and technologies and the:


Unprecedented volumes of data are now available to decision models and tools that can be used to grow the profitability of Australian agriculture. The challenge is in providing equitable access to all the available data – public and private – in a seamless manner, regardless of its disparate custodianship and collective heterogeneity. With support from ANDS, the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation has been liberating unique agricultural datasets and making them available through Research Data Australia.

A copy of Pete’s presentation slides are available at:

Postgraduate student news

Congratulations to all CeRDI HDRs who actively participated in the recent Federation University HDR Conference in July. The title of the conference was Making your Vision a Reality with post graduate students Chris Bahlo, Pat Bonney, David Ebbs, Alison Ollerenshaw, Shirish Sharma and Himalya Singh all providing  oral presentations and/or poster presentations at this important post graduate event.

PhD student David Ebbs has been awarded an internship with City West Water for the next four months. The project will involve contributing to the development of a strategy for the reuse of sewerage in Melbourne over the next 50 years, an area that is closely connected to David’s PhD research (link here to David’s profile:

David’s internship has been supported by the Australian Mathematical and Sciences Institute and City West Water.

Patrick Bonney, Shirish Sharma, and Alison Ollerenshaw Himalaya Singh David Ebbs

Patrick Bonney, Shirish Sharma, and
Alison Ollerenshaw

Himalaya Singh

David Ebbs


Staff profile: Meghan Taylor

Meghan Taylor  

Meghan Taylor


Meghan commenced working with CeRDI in 2011 after completing her VCE. Initially working in an Administrative/Project Officer role, she transitioned into a Research Officer role in early 2015. Meghan has recently completed a Bachelor of Science (Chemistry)/Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash University, which has given her a broad range of insight into a range of domains. She is particularly passionate about areas of public health, health systems, quality improvement, evidence-based practice and health data.

Through her studies and work experience Meghan has developed skills in qualitative research. Within the CeRDI qualitative research team, she often takes on responsibility for writing and submitting ethics applications, performing literature reviews and background research, and sourcing, extracting and analysing government and other health and community datasets.

Under the guidance of Dr Angela Murphy, Meghan has played a key role in a number of health and community related research projects in the Grampians region. Currently, along with CeRDI colleagues, she is leading a collaboration with community, state and local government, health and research organisations, known as the Wimmera Information Portal.

Higher degrees by research student: Patrick Bonney

Patrick Bonney  

Patrick Bonney


Patrick commenced his PhD at CeRDI in November 2016. Before this he was a freshwater research officer at the Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management (CAPIM), based at the University of Melbourne.

For his PhD research, Patrick is exploring the use and value of citizen science in freshwater management. Involving volunteers in scientific investigations is increasingly viewed as being integral to environmental management and government policy planning through two distinct, but complementary, pathways: (i) by providing long-term monitoring data to inform waterway condition, and (ii) by increasing volunteer knowledge of stream values to better equip them in freshwater planning processes. However, a lack of observed linkages between volunteer data and management actions, and limited evidence that involvement improves access and willingness to decision-making processes, flag significant shortfalls in the alignment between policy and practice.

With a focus on community-based monitoring groups in Australia, Patrick hopes to deliver an increased understanding of the relationship between citizen science and freshwater management and the characteristics of such groups that induce or limit their success.

Patrick is supervised by Dr Angela Murphy (CeRDI), Dr Birgita Hansen (CeRDI) and Dr Claudia Baldwin (University of Sunshine Coast) and is funded as part of the Regional University Networks (RUN) Water Futures Fund. Pat is currently working to confirm his candidature by November 2017.

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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