Honours for transformational research in health policy and practice

Associate Professor Kees van Gool and Associate Professor Angela Dawson, picture by Michael Amendolia

Associate Professor Kees van Gool and Associate Professor Angela Dawson, picture by Michael Amendolia

In summary: 
  • Researchers focused on making a real-world impact on vaccine safety, maternal and reproductive health, and strengthening the Medicare system have been honoured at the Sax Institute's 2016 Research Action Awards
  • Two of the three awardees were from UTS, health policy researcher Associate Professor Kees van Gool and women's health advocate Associate Professor Angela Dawson

UTS academics have been awarded two of the three 2016 Sax Institute Research Action Awards, recognising researchers whose work has made a difference to people's health and wellbeing.

Associate Professor Kees van Gool, Deputy Director of the UTS Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation, and Associate Professor Angela Dawson from the Faculty of Health have been honoured with Associate Professor Kristine Macartney from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance for work that is "a shining example of how research can help address the issues we face as a society."

"The commitment of researchers who are passionate about making a tangible difference is critical to improving our health system and individual health outcomes," said Sax Institute CEO Professor Sally Redman. The Sax Institute is an independent, non-profit Australian leader in helping decision makers find and make best use of research to solve real-world health and social problems.

"The safety of the vaccines we give to our children, sexual and reproductive healthcare outcomes for women and girls, and improving the equity and efficiency of Medicare are fundamentally important topics − these are three worthy winners."

More than 600,000 women and girls die worldwide every year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, and Associate Professor Dawson is focused on addressing this great inequity in health outcomes.

Associate Professor van Gool has investigated the Extended Medicare Safety Net since its creation in 2004, with a focus on making it more equitable, sustainable and efficient.

UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attlia Brungs said UTS was proud to have two researchers among the three 2016 winners.

"Ensuring our research has a real impact on society is a core UTS value and so it is wonderful to see our researchers being rewarded not only for their stellar performance, but also for the positive benefit they bring to society," Professor Brungs said.

Associate Professor Dawson developed a package of sexual and reproductive healthcare guidelines for use in humanitarian crises in the Asia Pacific region, which have now been used by 95 country coordination teams and 4000 national coordinators in the aftermath of humanitarian disasters.

Her work has also influenced 23 policy changes at national and provincial levels to better integrate sexual and reproductive healthcare delivery in emergency responses.

She was also responsible for the development of the first NSW Health clinical practice guidelines on obstetric care for women with female genital mutilation.

Associate Professor van Gool's research identified major cost and equity issues with the Medicare Safety Net, with the 20 per cent of Australians living in the wealthiest areas receiving 55 per cent of benefits and 43 cents out of every safety net dollar going towards increased doctor fees.

This research was key to the Federal Government introducing caps on certain Safety Net items in 2010, such as varicose vein, hair transplant and IVF procedures.

Legislation that would extend caps across all safety net payments is currently before the Senate and Dr van Gool recently secured a three-year grant from the Australian Research Council to re-examine the Safety Net program.  

For more information on the Research Action Awards and the work of the 2016 awardees, including interviews, visit the Sax Institute website.

Health and Science