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CeRDI Newsletter Winter 2019

Message from the Director

Associate Professor: Helen Thompson  

Associate Professor:
Helen Thompson


It’s exciting to be part of a nation-wide, collaborative research project that is leading to positive and substantive change for Australia’s agriculture industry. At the Bush Summit in Dubbo in July, Prime Minister Scott Morrison praised the work of the Soil Cooperative Research Centres (CRC), emphasising that the investment in the CRC is “essential to the health of the bush”. 

Federation University is an active member of the Soil CRC, and the lead organisation for Visualising Australasia’s Soils ( Through this and other Soil CRC projects, CeRDI is bringing expertise in research and technology together with data about Australasia’s soils in ways that are quickly becoming a game changer for the agriculture sector.

Facilitating change and helping industries and communities use data and other evidence to improve decision making is represented across many of the stories highlighted in this issue of the CeRDI newsletter with CeRDI research practice informed by our research and technology engagement, nationally and internationally.

Andrew MacLeod and Bruce Simons recently participated in the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) 111th Technical Committee meeting in Leuven, Belgium. Federation University through CeRDI is a OGC member and has actively contributed to the development of international data standards focused on addressing the problems created by heterogeneous groundwater data with outputs now being considered as a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) standard. CeRDI is also contributing to new approaches which will pull together distributed knowledge about real world features, held by different data providers, available in multiple representations through the SELFIE. This is one part of an ongoing initiative of OGC to build a web of environmental data in such a way that it is easily and reliably discovered, navigated, and used by contemporary web developers. The learnings generated through OGC participation are then brought back into knowledge initiatives across agriculture, groundwater, soil, geology and environmental data.


CeRDI participates at Open Geospatial Consortium in Belgium

Open Geospatial Consortium in Belgium  

Open Geospatial Consortium in Belgium


CeRDI’s Andrew MacLeod and Bruce Simons recently participated in the 111th Technical Meeting of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). The meeting, which was held in Leuvin, Belgium, in June, is a prestigious and important event that brings together international experts for a week-long event comprising summits, meetings and workshops to advance the development and use of international standards and services to promote international geospatial interoperability.

The OCG is an international industry consortium with over 500 organisations and companies participating to develop publicly-available interface standards. The OCG standards enable complex spatial information and services to become accessible and valuable across different applications.

At the meeting, Andrew and Bruce participated in sessions about the challenges dealing with agriculture, groundwater, soil, geology and environmental data. Andrew and Bruce presented at the session about “Sharing Data in Agriculture”, where they reported on Federation University’s involvement in the OGC Borehole Interoperability Experiment. Andrew and Bruce also participated in the adjunct workshop for the Second Environmental Linked Features Interoperability Experiment (SELFIE).

Youth C.A.N project: successful conclusion

Youth Changing Alcohol Norms (Youth C.A.N) project, funded by VicHealth  

Youth Changing Alcohol Norms (Youth C.A.N)
project, funded by VicHealth


The Youth Changing Alcohol Norms (Youth C.A.N) project, funded by VicHealth and co-ordinated by Horsham Rural City Council (HRCC) and CeRDI under the leadership of Dr Angela Murphy, recently concluded. The project culminated in the preparation of a final report incorporating extensive research outcomes and documenting the successes associated with the programme. 

The aim of the two-year Youth C.A.N. project was to assess and change alcohol culture and identify potential health interventions leading to cultural change and safer, reduced alcohol consumption for young people (aged 15–20 years) in Horsham. Stage one of the project captured insights about current alcohol consumption and alcohol misuse in the region, and the opportunities for cultural change to reduce alcohol use. The second stage of the project involved knowledge-building, awareness and capacity, comprising integrated education for parents and young people, and a social marketing campaign to counter perceived norms and promote alternative choices for young people. Alongside this, a comprehensive research program to measure the impact and outcomes of the project on young people was implemented by CeRDI.

National Waterbug Blitz: upcoming spring monitoring

 Waterbug Data Portal  

 Waterbug Data Portal


The National Waterbug Blitz is Australia’s first nationwide waterways monitoring event and citizen science project. Preparations for spring monitoring are now in place. Between August and November 2019, Australians are being encouraged to don a pair of gumboots, grab a net and bucket and head down to their local rivers and creeks to investigate the health of their local waterways and wetlands. Insights about the health of the waterway can be determined simply by exploring and identifying what aquatic macroinvertebrates (“waterbugs”) they contain.

Training sessions are being held nationally over coming months for anyone interested in participating in the spring monitoring. Training sessions will be delivered in every state between August and November. The sessions are ‘hands on’ with participants gaining the skills required to collect waterbugs and use the latest technology to identify and record their sample, using the free Waterbug App ( It is anticipated that the event will attract broad community interest, and already a commitment to undertake monitoring has been received from community groups including fishing groups, fly fishers, Landcare, Natural Resource Management agencies and schools.


Zoos Victoria and CeRDI: extending collaborative eResearch opportunities for Fighting Extinction

Zoos Victoria Fighting Extinction  

Zoos Victoria Fighting Extinction


Under the project leadership of Rob Milne, CeRDI has signed an agreement with Zoos Victoria for further collaboration on a second phase, multiyear project to provide information technology services and eResearch expertise tied to the Zoos Victoria ‘Fighting Extinction’ program. This collaboration will enable enhancements and extensions to be made to the program, which has been established with the aim of preventing the loss of threatened wildlife.

A substantial component of the work that CeRDI will undertake with this project will be in the creation of a framework for eResearch approaches. A range of activities will be associated with the collaboration, including the identification and analysis of the research data sets, the role of citizen scientists in the collection of new data, and the investigation of information and communication technologies on practice change.

This collaboration will focus on two key themes over the coming 12 months. First, it will include the provision of data and information about the Zoos Victoria’s ‘Fighting Extinction’ priority threatened species, accessible through the State Wide Integrated Flora and Fauna Teams (SWIFFT) and Visualising Victoria’s Biodiversity (VVB) platforms. This will include exploring the incorporation of accessible Aboriginal knowledge in relation to these species.  

Digital Health Open Mic night draws a crowd

Digital Health Open Mic night draws a crowd  

Digital Health Open Mic night draws a crowd


The second Digital Health in Ballarat Open Mic night, which was held on 25 July, attracted a large crowd of local health workers, students and community members. The July open mic event was jointly co-ordinated by Federation University, Ballarat Innovation and Research Collaboration for Health (BIRCH) and Ballarat Health Services.

Open mic night attendees gathered at Oscar’s Hotel in Central Ballarat to hear from four speakers drawn from the health sector, the university and from CeRDI. The four speakers shared a common commitment to developing and implementing digital technologies to support and enhance patient experiences.

Tina Smith, Regional Business Analyst in Client Information Support with Ballarat Health Services (BHS), and Kate Nolan, Chief Information Officer with Ballarat Health Services, took the audience through the status of evolution of patient digital health records at BHS and across the Grampians Rural Health Alliance.

Andrew Macleod, Technical Manager at CeRDI, introduced two health focussed data portals developed by CeRDI: the Wimmera Information Portal, an online spatial data tool developed to help address social disadvantage; and the Data Press Project, a spatial data portal created to support clinicians, researchers and workers responding to domestic violence across the Central Highlands region.

Staff profile: Jude Channon

Jude Channon: Research Officer  

Jude Channon
Research Officer


Jude Channon joined CeRDI in 2017 as a Research Officer after returning to Australia from the UK with her family. She left CeRDI for a short time to lead a region wide healthcare project, but has recently returned to CeRDI to work on the Online Farm Trials research. 

Jude studied a Masters of Education at RMIT and worked on various youth and social justice projects in her home town in South Africa before moving to Melbourne to pursue her PhD. She then moved to London where she worked for 15 years on implementing healthcare projects within the National Health Service before returning to Australia and taking up a post as a Research Officer with CeRDI.

Jude’s work areas of interest are around organisational development, governance and developing new models of working. This is what makes the Online Farm Trials space such an exciting one for her. OFT affords opportunities for collaborative working and inspiring change in practice and this is what drives her interest in the project. Jude is also passionate about food security and other social welfare issues affecting women and children in regional and rural areas, which she is involved in through her volunteer roles.

Student profile: Dr Basharat Ali

Dr Basharat Ali: PhD Candidate  

Dr Basharat Ali
PhD Candidate


Basharat commenced his PhD at CeRDI in March 2019. Through the course of his studies, Basharat will empirically investigate the moderating effect of individual absorptive capacity, business succession planning and risk identification on the relationship between technology readiness, trust and agriculture operation and business performance. Connecting farmers, agronomists and the professionals as potential respondents, Basharat intends to use primary data as a main source of his study, and use partial least square-structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM) as a technique to analyse and test his research hypotheses.

Basharat’s PhD research is multidisciplinary, and will incorporate information and communication technologies, agriculture, statistics, economics, sociology, social sciences and environmental management. The research framework will include a combination of reasoned action theory, diffusion of innovation theory and technology readiness index. The potential research outcomes associated with this research will be significant, providing substantive and deeper insights into the potential barriers for adopting digital agriculture and proper measures. The findings from this research will be of global interest, providing important new insights to inform the agricultural industry, and academia.

Basharat approaches his PhD from a strong academic and industry background. He completed his first PhD (in technology, operations and logistics) at the Northern University of Malaysia. Basharat also has 15-years’ experience working in academia, training, management and industry consultancies in Australia and overseas. Skilled in quantitative and qualitative research techniques within the built environment using PLS-SEM (SmartPLS, AMOS, NVivo and SPSS), Basharat’s research interests include innovation management, religiosity, consumer psychology, human resources management, education and technology management. Basharat has numerous international publications, published with Scopus and peer reviewed journals and conference proceedings to his credit.

Basharat’s supervisors for his PhD include Associate Professors Pete Dahlhaus (principal supervisor) and Helen Thompson and Dr Nathan Robinson (associate supervisors). He is enrolled with the School of Science, Engineering and Information Technology. His research is funded by Federation University, Precision Agriculture Pty Ltd and the Food Agility CRC.

CeRDI news snippets

Visualising Australasia’s Soils information video  

Visualising Australasia’s Soils information video


Visualising Australasia’s Soils information video: As the lead organisation on the two-year Visualising Australasia’s Soils (VAS) project, CeRDI recently commissioned a couple of brief videos to introduce and explain the project. The videos involve CeRDI’s Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus and lead researcher for the VAS project, explaining its aims and scope and highlighting the potential capabilities and benefits to agronomists, farmers and researchers of a national soil data portal.

The VAS project involves the creation of a web portal to access shared public and private soil datasets. CeRDI is contributing specialised computing, information analysis and data federating systems, using eResearch approaches to inform this project. 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

Soil CRC Project: Visualising Australasia's soils - Assoc Prof Peter Dahlhaus:

Soil CRC Project: Visualising Australasia's soils explainer:

University celebrates digital innovation: Innovators and futurists met at Federation University in late August to generate exciting ideas about the digital future. Technology Evolution: Federation University and Partners provided a fascinating insight into the future of digital opportunities. CeRDI’s Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus presented at this event, alongside Professor Chris Hutchison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation); Ben Fleay, Precision Agriculture; George Fong, co-founder of Lateral Plains; Associate Professor Dean Cooley – School of Education and Dr Ben Willis from Federation Business School. Topics discussed included precision agriculture, ecology, data ownership, cyber security, agricultural marketplaces, networking technologies, and digital education. Discussions also included emerging digital technologies, and the impact to employment and the community.

CeRDI postgraduate news

New PhD student: Derek Walters  

New PhD student:
Derek Walters 

Alison Ollerenshaw presented  Federation University Higher Degree by Research (HDR) research conference  

Alison Ollerenshaw presented 
Federation University
Higher Degree by Research
(HDR) research conference


New PhD student: CeRDI welcomes Derek Walters, who recently commenced his PhD. Derek will be conducting research to examining ‘What is the contribution of groundwater to Port Phillip Bay’. Derek’s supervisors include Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus (CeRDI) and Dr Ander Guinea from Federation University’s School of Science, Engineering and Information Technology.

IAH student presentations: Derek Walters will be presenting on his PhD research at the September meeting of the Victorian Chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists. Derek is one of three students from three Victorian Universities, and the only Federation University student, to be presenting at the event. Derek’s presentation is “Port Phillip Bay: the real value of groundwater”. To be held on 17th September at RMIT, further information and registration for this event is available at:


Federation University Higher Degree by Research (HDR) research conference: Two CeRDI PhD students presented at the recent annual HDR conference on 25 July at the Mt Helen Campus of Federation University. Basharat Ali presented an overview of his research examining the role of leadership on the relationship between technology-readiness, trust and digital agriculture. Alison Ollerenshaw presented on her PhD research, which is investigating the relationship between business incubator services and the psychological capital of tenant-entrepreneurs.


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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