INFFER – applying economics in environmental management

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.

Fixing a leaky Fixing

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.

Enhancing Policy-Making and Public Dialogue on the Future of Cities

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.

Guiding Principles for states displaced by climate change

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: industrial and cultural connections

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.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities: health, wellbeing and suicide

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.

The power of people in shaping good health

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.

Parkinson’s: when you sleep better, you feel better

Sleep is one of the pillars of health. However, sleep disturbances can be a common symptom in Parkinson’s, affecting up to 98% of patients.

From their studies, and from what is known about how the brain works, Dr Maria Pushpanathan, UWA School of Psychological Science and her colleagues have shown that there are relationships between sleep and daytime function. By improving sleep symptoms, potentially, the progression of Parkinson’s may slow and, subsequently, the quality of life may improve. Translating this new knowledge could also have major clinical implications for the treatment of problematic sleep issues in people with Parkinson’s.

Dr Ionat Zurr and Mr Oron Catts, co-founders of SymbioticA

SymbioticA: provoking dialogue about artful science

Art is supposed to do the avant-garde, be radical and ask the deepest questions about life and about the position of the human in this world. For almost 20 years, UWA’s SymbioticA has been interested in the growing gap between our cultural understanding of life and what we know about life through science. But more importantly, what we choose to do to life through technology. Through their exhibitions and research the group has developed new technologies, influenced policymaking and articulated cultural ideas around scientific knowledge in the pursuit of critiquing the ethical and cultural issues of the manipulation of life.

What’s a breastfeed?

Over the last hundred years there have been huge advances in medical care for pregnancy and childbirth such as: assisted reproductive technologies, blood tests for hormone levels, ultrasound assessments of pregnancy and neonatal intensive care units. However, we are not seeing similar advances to treat issues relating to lactation.