Maternal dietary folate deficiency in the first weeks of life carries a higher risk that the fetus’ neural tube will not fuse, leading to the development of either spina bifida or anencephaly. For two decades Bower et al. followed a dedicated pathway to impact by lobbying the Australian Government’s Health portfolio’s statutory authority, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), to introduce mandatory fortification of wheat flour. In 1995 voluntary fortification was allowed and in 2009 fortification of wheat flour with folate became mandatory. From 2011 to 2016, NTD births dropped, regardless of mother’s culture, age, educational attainment or choice of hospital system.
Insufficient physical activity by children are associated with poorer physical and mental health. The Child’s Play project, led by Associate Professor Wood and Dr Martin at the UWA School of Population and Global Health has generated community engagement with nature-play spaces in Western Australian schools and local communities. The researchers collaborated with Healthway, Rio Tinto, Kings Park Botanic Garden and Parks Authority, the WA Department of Education, Nature Play WA, Kidsafe, urban planners and architects, as well as local councils and schools to identify play space designs that were preferred by children and supported play. Collaborators have used UWA research to inform their strategies around open spaces and evaluate their new and existing parks and playgrounds.
UWA researchers have developed an innovative assessment method to enable schools to streamline school assessment processes across the nation. Brightpath is an online tool in which samples of students work can be compared with exemplars and used provide standardised feedback in order to positive affect educational outcomes.
Brightpath has been adopted by approximately 500 schools and used for 300,000 assessments of Australian students. In addition, the researchers have impacted Australian education communities through critical involvement with: (i) the National Assessment Programme—Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) involving over 1 million student participants per year; and (ii) the high-stakes Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) affecting 26,000 high school students each year.
The Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER) is a set of tools and frameworks that has redirected investments worth tens of millions of dollars by methodically demonstrating the value for money, or lack of it, in environmental project options. Since 2011, 20 of Australia’s 56 regional environmental management bodies have undertaken training in INFFER and are now using it to develop, evaluate and prioritise environmental projects. INFFER helps managers assess and rank environmental and natural resource projects and provides a framework for economic thinking in the decision processes. Impacts have been seen in greater environmental benefits through better design and prioritisation of environmental projects in publicly funded programs.
UWA research uncovered a price bias and an exploitable trade advantage in the 100 year old mechanism used to set the daily benchmark price of precious metals globally. The London Fixing, which had been run by a handful of “member” banks, formed an integral part of a US$30 trillion dollar annual market, impacting metal prices, financial instruments and contracts. Following publication of the research, multiple civil and criminal trials were launched against the banks. Regulatory investigations began and fines were issued. Benchmarking regulations were overhauled and manipulation was criminalised. The research has led to the London Fixings being replaced with modern electronic auctions that provide fairer and more transparent systems of commodity price benchmarking.
The University of Western Australia (UWA) has played a critical role in enhancing policy-making, public debate and progress on the future of Perth and Australian cities. An important part of this has been an innovative, longstanding partnership with the Committee for Perth. This partnership has focused on major urban policy concerns related to globalization, economic development, demographic change, urban liveability and social equality. This research stimulated debate across business, community, government and individuals about the future of cities. The partnership draws on an active and ongoing strategy of engagement with stakeholders. In addition, the partnership actively seeks to inform policy by improving the quality of evidence used by urban decision-makers.
The Peninsula Principles on Climate Displacement Within States is a policy framework designed to assist governments worldwide in dealing with people displaced by climate change. In addition to being the subject of books, articles and reports, the Peninsula Principles have been used to guide governmental and UN policy development on addressing climate displacement, provided an organising tool for community-based organisations and further influenced international actions on planned relocation for climate displaced communities.
Murujuga has one of the largest collections of engraved rock art anywhere in the world. The art is of cultural and spiritual significance to Aboriginal people, is on Australia’s National Heritage List and has recognised international heritage values. The Murujuga National Park (MNP) created in January 2013, recognises the cultural heritage value of the rock art and its environment and is owned by Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation who lease this back to the State who co-manage it. UWA aims to deliver a scientifically rigorous approach to research, monitoring and management that will provide an appropriate level of protection to the rock art. This research underpins significant impacts in the environment, society and industry and culture of Murujuga and the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Indigenous suicide is a significant population health challenge for Australia. Suicide is a major cause of Indigenous premature mortality and is a contributor to Indigenous health and life expectancy gaps. Two national projects undertaken by UWA researchers – the National Empowerment Project (NEP) and The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) – have contributed significantly to the knowledge base on how to address this health challenge and have influenced Government policy. These projects have increased awareness in community based and Indigenous led solutions, as well as informing policy changes at the Federal level.
A team of researchers at the Psychology of Active Healthy Living group at The University of Western Australia have dedicated their research to understanding the power of others in shaping healthy behaviours. Their community-based programs including Mummy Buddy and MAN v FAT Soccer have shown that the presence of a strong support network can have positive effects on a person’s general health and mental well-being.