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Anton Breinl Research Centre Partnerships and Projects

Partnerships and Projects


Fostering participatory processes and advocating for social justice in health policy and practice are underlying principles of our Centre. Research and programs aimed at strengthening health and health systems in rural, remote, tropical and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are fostered in partnership with professional bodies, Indigenous peak bodies, research centres and other educational institutions.

Poor health and wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community is a priority issue and our Centre works closely with communities, government, non-government organisations, and the School of Indigenous Australian Studies to close the gap in health status between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-indigenous Australians, across each of the programs of activity. Two of these organisations are the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).

Strengthening research relationships with clinicians within Queensland Health and other professional health peak bodies.

La Trobe Rural Health School strives to improve the health and wellbeing of rural and regional communities through the continual development of a quality rural health workforce. It offers courses in 11 health disciplines in regional Victoria.

Projects - Health systems strengthening and workforce development

NHMRC Partnership Grant (GNT1148660 2017-2020, $1.13million)

Co-Lead Investigators Dr Veronica Matthews and Professor Sarah Larkins

The LEAP (Leveraging Effective Ambulatory Practices) project aims to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care services to identify and implement a strengths-based framework that will support quality improvement – we seek to understand what is needed for all services to succeed.

This project builds on current work and existing partnerships to improve the quality of health services. Working with eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care services and existing quality improvement networks, we will support services to achieve their quality improvement goals.


Find LEAP Project updates, presentations, publications and community resources on the LEAP Project page.

LEAP story is now available via YouTube.

Larkins S (CIB), Taylor J, Elston J, Croker F et al.

This NHMRC funded Partnership project works with our partners Townsville Mackay Medical Local, La Trobe University Rural Health School, Loddon Mallee Murray Medicare Local and the Royal Flying Doctor Service to test whether a method for involving communities in participatory planning around rural oral health services is successful in designing improved services and better outcomes. Funding allocated: $840,000.

Learn more about Rural ECOH.

The Tropical Centre for Telehealth Practice and Research (TC-TPR) is the leading telehealth innovation and research organisation in North Queensland. Located within Townsville University Hospital, the TC-TPR is dedicated to advancing telehealth practice, training and research across Northern Queensland and Australia to provide quality and safe patient-centred care, closer to home.

Contact Associate Professor Sabe Sabesan for more information.

Larkins SMurray RMills J, Stewart R et al.

Demonstration health workforce development projects with Mareeba and Yarrabah communities in partnership with Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service. Extension currently under consideration by HWA. Funding allocated: $80,000.

Whaleboat DLarkins SMurray R

Innovation in Clinical Training Placements in the community-controlled sector in north Queensland. Funding allocated: $249,000.

Pighills A, Stronach P, Gordon S, Hornsby D, Thomas Y.  To establish a student led trans-disciplinary clinic to enable students to be allocated patients, carry their own routine clinical caseload and share professional skills. This service will be delivered to older people, at risk of, or currently experiencing, functional decline, from two community based Allied Health teams in regional Queensland. $245 5000.

Gordon S, Kennedy R, Morrison J, Raasch B, Stronach P, Pellatt A.  Development, implementation and evaluation of an inter-professional student-led university health clinic in partnership with non-Government organisations. $250 000.

Knight S.  The development and implementation of a service learning model of remote, Aboriginal and rural mental health clinical placements to build on current innovation, and to address multiple issues related to both student placements and service delivery in the region.

Larkins S, Murray RPreston RRoss SWoolley T et al.

THEnet is an international network of medical schools with a social accountability mandate. JCU SMD is a foundation school. THEnet have published an evaluation framework for socially accountable medical education and are now coordinating an international graduate outcome study. Atlantic Philanthropies funding since 2008. Euros 600 000.

2018-2020. Contract research, Department of Health. $370,000.

Researchers: Sarah Larkins, Rebecca Evans, Karen Carlisle, Emily Callander, Robyn Preston and Karen Johnston.

2019-2020. Contract Research, Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Australia. $150,000.  

Researchers: Maxine Whittaker, Sarah Larkins, Stephanie Topp, Edward Strivens, David Atkinson, Bhavini Patel, Alexandra Edelman, Nishila Moodley


The Northern Australia Health Service Delivery Situational Analysis project is an initiative of the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA). The project is a policy-focussed consultancy that involves the production of a health-sector-focussed situational analysis report following extensive stakeholder consultation across the north.

The analysis will identify the key challenges and opportunities facing the northern Australian health service delivery sector and health workforce and strategic development priorities for future investment.

The contracted project participants comprise:

  • James Cook University (project leader)
  • Northern Territory Top End Health Service
  • University of Western Australia Rural Clinical School
  • Hospital and Health Services in northern Queensland through the Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre.

These consortium partners are working closely with state and territory government departments and health services, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and other health and community stakeholder groups using a collaborative scoping and problem-solving approach.

The six-month project consists of two stages:

  • Stage 1: a scoping review of publications, policy documents and report; analysis of health sector export and demand opportunities; analysis of government-partnered workforce and research projects; and a cost-benefit analysis of development scenarios. These analyses were compiled into a draft situational analysis report for consultation in October 2019 (link below).
  • Stage 2: discussion and engagement with stakeholders across northern Australia to refine the draft report and inform the development of a policy action plan (October 2019 to February 2020).

For more details about the project please visit the CRCNA website.

Projects - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

NHMRC Project Grant (GNT1146013 2018-2022 $1.8 million)

Co-Lead Investigators Associate Professor Catrina Felton-BuschProfessor Sarah Larkins

This project aims to test the effectiveness of community women’s groups to improve the quality of maternal and child health care and outcomes.  The project is a partnership between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care services, community women's groups, and experienced researchers. Together we will use the best evidence about community participation in co-design of health services.


Learn more about the WOMB project.

This NHMRC funded research aims to better remote and regional Indigenous primary health care services, through examination of case studies at six "high improving" primary health care services within the ABCD national research partnership.

Chief Investigators: Prof Sarah Larkins, Sandra Thompson, Christine Connors, A/Prof Jacinta Elston, Prof Komla Tsey.

Associate Researchers: 

  • Menzies School of Health Research: Prof Ross Bailie, Ms Tania Patrao, Dr Veronica Matthews, Moana Tane, Maxwell Mitropoulos.
  • Queensland Health: Chris Henaway, Ms Ru Kwezda.
  • James Cook University: Annette Panzera, Dr Cindy Woods
  • University of Western Australia: Mrs Jacki Ward
  • Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory: Kerry Copley

Site Representatives:

  • Wurli Wulinjang: Dr Bruce Hocking, Rebecca Bond
  • KWHB-Yarralin: Rebecca Gooley, Brian Pedwell, Sinon Cooney
  • Darnley and Yorke Islands: Robyn Taylor, Robyn White, Angela Mills
  • Batchelor: Margaret Brice
  • Fitzroy Crossing: Maureen Clarke

Learn more about Lessons from the Best

Felton- Busch CKnight S, Elston J et al. Training Aboriginal Health Workers and facilitating registration 2013-2015, HWA Consultancy. $900 000.

NHMRC Targeted Call for Research into Healthy Ageing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. $1100540 over 5 years 2020-2024.  

Investigators: Professor Edward Strivens, Dr Sarah Russell, Ms Rachel Quigley, Professor Robyn McDermott, Dr Sean Taylor, Professor Sarah Larkins and others.

NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Grant. $1,515,145 over 5 years, 2020-2024

Investigators: Prof Edward Strivens, Dr Sarah Russell, Ms Rachel Quigley, Prof Sarah Larkins Dr Veronica Matthews, Prof Robyn McDermott et al.

NHMRC CRE $2.5 million over 5 years

Investigators: Dr Veronica Matthews, Prof Sarah Larkins, A/Prof Catrina Felton-Busch, Prof Yvonne Cadet-James and others (administered through Uni Sydney).

Learn more about the CRE-STRIDE project.


Murray R. Grant M. (CIA) Asbestos related disease in Indigenous communities. NHMRC project grant.

Elston J, Speare R, Murray R et al.  Successfully developing a cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers. NHMRC - Building Indigenous Research Capacity (BIRC) grant. 2.5 million over 4 years.

Sarnyai ZLarkins S, Elston J.  Biomedical research will focus on biological understanding of priority diseases, potentially leading to outcomes focused genomics research with potential for large health gains (performed with respectful engagement with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities).  Initial projects include correlating salivary cortisol with self-reported stress and observing diurnal variation over time. Faculty grant 2013. $20 000.

Devlin S, Corbin P, Massey P, Judd J. Tuberculosis in Northern NSW- a PAR project with North Coast Health and Aboriginal Medical Services building Indigenous research capacity.

Evaluating Indigenous Health Programs [Judd J. (JCU); Boulton A. (Whakauae Research Services Ltd, Wanganui NZ); Cargo M. (SAMRI, UniSa); Warner L (UniSA); and other partners in NZ]

Projects - Responding to priority health challenges in our region

  • MacLaren D et al.  Seventh Day Adventist Responses to HIV in Papua New Guinea.  PNG National Aids Council - Large Research Grant Program. $295 650 over 3 years.
  • MacLaren D et al. Is Male Circumcision an Acceptable and Feasible Intervention to Reduce HIV Transmission in Papua New Guinea? NHMRC Project grant. $605 000 over 3 years.
  • Harrison S. Buettner, Nowak M.  Skin cancer research in north Queensland. $140 000 over 4 years.
  • Harrison S, Buettner, Nowak M.  Multicomponent sun protection pilot intervention for schools. $90 000 over 3 years.
  • Oral cancer in remote Indigenous communities and its links with smoking (cannabis and tobacco)
  • Ye A.  Endogenous bone regenerative technique in craniofacial clefts. ARC Discovery Early Career Research Grant. $375 000 over 3 years.
  • Franklin R, Leggatt P, Speare R , Furyk et al. Queensland Emergency Medicine Research Foundation – Capacity building grant. $210 000 over 3 years.
  • Gordon S, Devine SKnight S, Franklin R .  Rural Health Continuing Education Addressing upstream causes and contributing factors to allied health patient presentations in a rural and remote setting. Department of Health and Ageing grant. $46 000 over 2 years.
  • MacLaren D, Speare R, Larkins SEradicating soil transmitted helminthes in the Solomon Islands. AITHM grant. $20 000. Find out more on the Atoifi Health Research Group.
  • Speare R, Maclean J, Mendez D, Judd J, King F. Evaluating the services provided by bat rescue groups in the Queensland public.  Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation: $2900
  • McBryde E, Carlisle K, MacLaren D, Larkins S, Whittaker M , Topp S, et al. Partners in Tropical Health 2017-2019. DFAT funded $2m.