Research that Matters Transcript: Episode 1, Our research during a pandemic

Research that matters episode 1

In this episode, our researchers explain what data can tell us and how mapping research findings can influence better decision-making and strategic outcomes for health, education, and economic benefits.

Research that Matters, Episode 1: Our research in a time of pandemic

Research that Matters is a 9-part podcast series featuring researchers from Torrens University Australia, who are working towards solving complex global problems and propelling innovation. For more information, and to access all other episodes in the series, click here.

In this episode, our researchers explain what data can tell us and how mapping research findings can influence better decision-making and strategic outcomes for health, education, and economic benefits.

Featuring:

Host:            Clement Paligaru (in bold)

Guests:        Professor Ros Cameron (RC)
                     Professor John Glover (JG)
                     Dr Athena Vongalis-Macrow (AVM)

Full Transcript

If Thomas Edison, wasn't curious about capturing light. Our worlds would be much darker today.

Picture a world without research.

It would be a world without the internet. A world without medical technologies, like the MRI and a world where we'd never know that making time for play actually expands our minds.

Research can be a powerful force for innovation.

RC: It's how we progress as a society. It's how we innovate. It's how we develop, how we create an evidence-base for the big issues that impact society. It's not only pure science, it's about the big ticket issues.

Research can shed light on issues we didn't even know existed and raise questions we didn't even realise needed asking.

AVM: How do we know that the changes that we're putting into place are actually good? Are they doing good, are they creating good conditions and good outcomes? I think that's the value of research and why it matters.

Research has the ability to drive real change and transform the world we live in.

JG: I think it's important because it hopefully will lead to changes in planning and service delivery and policy development in the long run.

This is Research that Matters. I'm Clement Paligaru.

This series explores the work of researchers from Torrens University Australia. We'll take you behind the curtain to hear about what drives their passion and the impact their work has on all of us.

In this episode, we look at the role of research during a time of pandemic.

RC: Previous to joining academia, I was a senior HR practitioner and I worked in Australia, the Middle East and the Fiji Islands for four years.

Hi, my name is Professor Ros Cameron, and I'm the Director of the Centre for Organisational Change and Agility at Torrens University.

I think my success comes from having that practitioner background. A lot of what you do in HR practice is evidence-based and research-based.

You collect data on surveys, you look at skills audits and you do workforce planning. So, I guess that industry base and international experience in my professional career’s really informed my practice in research.

Professor Cameron's research interest is skilled migration in Australia

RC: I'm quite passionate about skilled migration.

I think it plays such an important role in Australian history. We have had a long history of migration in Australia, ever since World War II, and skill migrants make up the beauty that is the multicultural society and the multicultural social fabric of Australian society.

What we're seeing at the moment, and what my current research in this space is looking at, is there's a lot of discourse at the moment around skilled migration - because it’s stopped. It's halted dramatically since COVID 19 and our border restrictions.

And so, what it's doing is bringing skilled migration back into a sphere of debate in terms of policy and the different programs that we offer. It's forming part of the discussion around our population, our economic recovery, fiscal issues, but also around our multiculturalism as a country.

Previously, all you ever heard in terms of migration in the media was stuff around asylum seekers in detention, but now this debate is changing, and I think this will trigger some interesting decisions, I hope, going forward, around how well policies and programs are actually working and what's not working.

Skilled migration is a topic that Professor Cameron has put under the spotlight for quite some time. In fact, she's had over 90 articles featured across various publications.

Her research peels back the layers of skills shortages in Australia and drills down on employer requests and the roles skilled migrants play in meeting the needs of Australian communities.

RC: In the past, I did a rather large project with the rail industry nationally.

The rail industry is made up of very big employers and very big organisations, both public and private. That research was done during the GFC, so the global financial crisis, which also paralleled with Australia's resources boom, and that's when the rail industry was losing engineers left right and centre. The engineers were going to resource rich regions to find employment and getting very good pay packets.

That research was really trying to find best practice in terms of attracting, recruiting and retaining skilled migrant engineers into that sector.

Other research I've conducted is around the role skilled migrants play in regional sustainability. I've done a couple of projects there - one in Gladstone, which is in central Queensland. A very industrial area, it has a strong history of migration to that region because of those industrial employers.

The research was really digging deep into that community, talking to the key stakeholders there about what role skilled margarines played, what sort of occupations they are in.

So, the hospital was a big employer and was always trying to find and recruit health professionals - health and medical professionals.

What we found there in Gladstone was that 50 per cent of the GPs in that local government area were overseas trained - 25 per cent of the dentists were overseas trained. The car dealership, the really large car dealership there had a growing group of Fijian mechanics and their families they recruited from overseas. And there was a whole range of people from many different countries and backgrounds living and working in that community and really contributing to that community.

Research like this is brought to life with strong partnerships. Connection, collaboration, and co-design is what makes a real difference when it comes to outcomes.

RC: My research isn't looking so much at that economic modelling type of investigation into skilled migration.

What it is looking at is its effectiveness on the ground. So, it really is about talking to the key stakeholders in the regions and saying, what are the issues for you? Why can't you attract people? What sort of people do you need to attract?

Every project that I run, I set up a community stakeholder steering or advisory committee.

For the Gladstone project we set up a steering advisory committee made up of local government, hospital, big employer groups, department of education, NGOs, and the chamber of commerce. So, we had all the key stakeholders at the table, and we really were co-researching with them. They wanted it evidence-based because they wanted to be able to lobby, state and federal government about issues relating to skilled migration and economic sustainability within their region.

I'm hoping to start to look at trying to bring lots of different stakeholders together in a skilled migration network across Australia. So, business groups, employer groups, tiers of government and researchers that are based in universities. This is an initiative I'm looking at at the moment - think tanks as well.

That will connect us all up, network to look at larger projects that we can undertake together, to see how we can address some of these issues.

If you're going to do something very rigorous, robust, and really look at the issues, then you need that funding. And it's important that key stakeholders are funding that because they've got skin in the game.

Sometimes it's good as well, to try and match the funding with other partners and so that's why it's important to get a coalition together - several partnerships where you can address common issues, but also maximize resources in being able to do research that really gets in there and looks at the issues - collects really robust evidence and brings it together, integrates it and delivers to those stakeholders.

Skilled migration has a multitude of interests wrapped around it in terms of policy and programs. It's related to building innovation and investment.

RC: In a lot of regions at the moment they're screaming for shifts. They can't get people in the hospitality and tourism sector to come, especially in regions.

You can see what's happened to the higher education sector with the borders closed and the inability of international students who come and study here.

International students are ignored in the skilled migration debate, quite a lot. There's a pool of professionally skilled, qualified labour, sitting already in Australia and I've always been curious about why we haven't focused more on international students and graduates as a potential pool of skilled migration labour. But I think what the issue is, and this is what my research has shown, is it's this complicated, convoluted, difficult system of visas.

I undertook a study with a regional university and a metropolitan based university. It was fascinating because what we did, we surveyed the international alumni of these two universities, and we asked them about their intentions to migrate.

Our research showed that those who intend to stay and try and get employment in Australia, the three big issues for them is the visa status/hopping process they have to go through, a lot of employer bias and discrimination, and the lack of work experience.

If they've been able to work for the 20 hours that they're allowed to, they’re usually doing survival jobs in the hospitality, tourism industry

In 2020 half a million migrants left Australia when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation. It's a sign the country could be left grappling with persistent skills shortage and a parliamentary report has already fired off a warning about the need to rethink our approach to major labour shortages.

In the context of COVID, Professor Cameron's research digs deep into the role of skilled migration for regional sustainability.

RC: We're also seeing now with COVID a real societal change and shift around geographic location. Employers are realising that people can work from home or in hybrid ways.

That's really affecting regions. It's actually helping regions attract people out of the metropolitan area, which means you need housing, you need services, you need social and cultural things to do in these regions and skill migrants play a very important role.

We've had a regional sponsored and regional skilled migration program for many years and regions find it really hard to attract professional people and workers to their region. So that's going to be the focus for me in the future and I've got together a fabulous multidisciplinary team in Torrens to look at this, we're going to be looking at some regions in South Australia and New South Wales.

I’m very excited about that because I think this is a real opportunity.

In that case study, I undertook in Gladstone, it was a huge impact on that region. It was not only employers that were benefiting from people coming to that region, but it had increased the need for services - skilled migrants come with partners and families and so it builds community in those regions. Then it helps trigger services and cultural and social activities.

It just gives a richness to the society and the community, and it also has fiscal and economic benefits because people come there, they buy houses, they work, they buy food, their children go to schools. It's such an impact on the whole community and the region

Data collected through surveys, interviews, and focus groups within Professor Cameron's research shows that skilled migrants make big sacrifices to be able to work in Australia.

RC: There’s too many doctors and engineers driving Ubers in Australia and I don't think people realise the impact it has on people - making that decision to pick up their lives and move to another country to try and build a life in another country for them and their families.

It's quite traumatic. It's emotional. It's culture shock. It takes a lot of money – it takes two years for them to transition and settle.

We interviewed 14 people who'd been in Western Australia for two to 20 years and the issues were the same

It was a similar story for Dr Athena Vongalis-Macrow.

She's a director of the Centre of Research in Education and Sustainability also known as CRES.

AVM: My family emigrated from Greece to Australia when I was five years old. So, I was actually born in Greece.

My father was a journalist back in Greece, but they were very turbulent times, and he was blacklisted. So, when we came to Australia, he took on, like many people did, a factory job.

And the saying was in the household, if you didn't go to school, well, then you can go to the factory, and I couldn't think of anything worse. There was a big push for many migrants to use education as a way to better your life, to create social mobility.

I have an older brother who's an amazing scientist and I think in many ways he led the way and showed what was possible.

The goalposts have to shift when it comes to skilled migration. Australia has been put on alert as international competitors vie for the best and brightest minds.

RC: We're all in a war for talent, and we're all looking for global talent.

We even have a global talent visa and we're all in competition for international students, but we're also in competition for skilled migrants. Traditional migration countries like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US - we're in competition. And what's going to make the difference is not only geopolitical issues, which are coming to the fore as well, but it's about getting the systems right.

It's about getting the right policy in place and then having streamlined visa programs underpinning that and getting that right.

I'm putting together a paper based on the survey data from HR professionals in 2008 and 2019. These two surveys asked HR professionals if they were they using skilled migration visas, how important was it and what sort of skill shortages they were facing?

2008 was during the time of the GFC and of course there was a mixed reaction, but the bulk of respondents needed skilled migration and it really hadn't changed almost 10 years later in 2019, just before COVID hit.

There is a demand for skilled migrants.

Professor Cameron has made a mark on the world of research. Not many people can say they've received research grants totalling almost $2 million.

As the director of the Centre for Organisational Change and Agility she says her team of researchers are keenly focused on the future of work and how that impacts professions and industry.

RC: What sort of re-skilling, up-skilling do people need to do with their workforces? What sort of jobs are going to be taken over by automation and what new jobs are out there and what jobs need to be redesigned? You can bring in lots of different disciplines to things like that.

Over at the Public Health Information Development Unit, or PHIDU, Professor John Glover and his research team are dedicated to capturing data on a range of social indicators, like health, disability, and welfare services.

It's a granular level of research that's taken place since the ‘90s.

The team produced the Social Health Atlas of Australia series. Once they crunch the numbers, these figures help shape policies.

JG: We take away a lot of the drudgery and the hard work of getting information and data about social inequality and the differences in population groups. We put it out there for others to take and use, so we're making their job a little easier and letting them get on with the development of policy and strategic planning.

With the data that we're collecting, when we collect information on deaths or hospitalisations or screening of cancer, there's not information in the records about the social and economic position of people. We know that one of the biggest factors after age, in effecting variations in the community in rates of disease and poor outcomes, is where they live in terms of the socioeconomic strata in which they live.

That's why we collect these data, and we can see over time whether we're making advances and we're implementing the right policies in this country to improve the lot of people who have had poor outcomes.

A lot of our time is on taking the data, compiling it, and getting it published. But we also do some additional research, so we've done some quite extensive work on looking at which areas in Australia consistently have more people going to hospital for things that should be avoided.

They might be cellulitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - which populations go to hospital for vaccine preventable conditions. They're not getting vaccinated for the flu and they're having high rates of hospitalisation for pneumonia.

We've done that work, which is a major piece.

It's been a very rewarding career and a rewarding time. But it also brings some rather disturbing data to the fore. And I think as we've seen in the last 10 years or so much more widening gaps in health inequality.

The social and economic benefits of capturing this data is indisputable.

JG: Certainly, our data is there to inform government policy.

Over time in one area in the social field, we can see that the proportion of children living in families where mothers have low educational achievement, and that's a big mark of how the children are going to fare in the world, we can see that proportion over about the last 15 years has dropped from about 30% to 17%.

It's still too high, but it's improving.

On the other side, in one of the health factors, which we know is again, very much influenced by social factors, we've seen a huge drop in the proportion of women smoking during pregnancy. It's still too high, particularly in the poorest most disadvantaged areas, but we have seen an improvement.

These data, by showing us the data over the last 20 years, we can see where they are at a local geographic level and it provides the information for people to go and work in the local community with better health promotion messages.

What we've got is a much broader range of data, particularly covering health aspects, as well as the social and economic aspects and demographics.

Whenever we see a number in the press, the media, we hear some figure mention of unemployment or a rate of going to hospital or something, we know there's a big range around that. That's what these data show, they show the range, they show the variation, whether it's within a capital city or across regional areas or very remote areas.

When the pandemic took grip in Australia, research from PHIDU, unearthed alarming statistics around home-schooling.

Mental health and internet connectivity didn't fare so well.

JG: What we have identified is the particular pressure on young people going to the emergency departments of hospitals across the country for mental health issues.

It's been building up for about 10 or so years, but the last couple of years it's really gone ahead and it’s stress of perhaps not being able to be among students and their fellow students, but also the stress of worrying about the future, about their jobs, what job will they have, about housing.

All those pressures are adding, and we're seeing that in real time. These point specific data then can be looked back over time to see what the changes are, but they should be driving us to look very carefully about the health and wellbeing of young people.

The general view held at quite high levels is that everyone's got the internet, but when it comes down to it, the range of people who don't - it's quite wide.

If you're at home doing schooling during the COVID period or any other time, when you need access to the internet, if you haven't got it to do homework, to do study research - it's a huge limitation and it leads to all sorts of stress.

The other part of that is of course, families where the family has to provide support to the young person who is studying and they may not have the skills to do so.

From an educational viewpoint. These findings already point to some bleak outcomes. Dr Athena Vongalis-Macrow.

AVM: In our recent research in the COVID context, we took the concept of learning loss. When you have kids at home school or jumping onto online, where they're not prepared, we can expect that there's a very big disruption in their learning.

So, it's estimated that for three months of learning loss disruption, that student will fall one and a half years behind.

Going forward, that will have an impact on our society, if we have a whole generation that's actually far behind the level and expectation that we would want.

Another key area of research that PHIDU is focused on is publishing data on the large gaps in health and disadvantage between Aboriginal and non-indigenous Australia.

This data is critical for informing government policies, like Closing the Gap and improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

JG: We've been publishing data on the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander population for a long time, as well as the total population.

Some of our colleagues who work in primary health networks - the Commonwealth has 32 of these across the country - they were wanting to get more information, not only about comparing indigenous with indigenous as we were doing, but comparing indigenous with non-indigenous.

So, we took it on ourselves to both produce special data for that, and also to look at what we could emulate of the Closing the Gap targets and to see how they were tracking over time, but at a geographic level. So that rather than just that state or national figure, we've got data within each state and territory.

We do know that through some recent presentations that we've made to the Department of Health in Canberra, the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander data was of great importance.

We had a separate seminar and approach to showing off those data and we were able to highlight the changes and the areas that remain challenges. And that is directly to the people who are doing the policy development for the government.

What we do is we take the major markers that are published in the major literature and the major reports from the Bureau of Statistics in the Australia Institute and Health and Welfare and international bodies.

We try and emulate those with data at a local level to show around the range and the inequalities. The data are important - one to show what the situation is, but two to show that it is changeable because the social factors – education, housing, employment are such a huge part of why there are these major differences in health outcomes. And if we keep publishing these data and showing the possibilities of change and writing about them, we believe that they will over time improve.

Mapping the data means researchers can make a big difference to many strategic decisions and it's helped shine the international spotlight on PHIDU as well.

JG: The map shows the data in such a way that you cannot avoid seeing the geographic patterns, the spatial patterns in the data, whether it's social circumstance, or health outcomes by people dying prematurely. You can see it throughout all of the datasets.

We need to monitor them over time to see if we are making a change, if we are making an improvement, because if we're not doing that, we're not getting the message through to the policymakers.

In an international conference in Rio de Janeiro on the social determinants of health run by the World Health Organisation, the Commonwealth Department of Health were given a spot in the video to make a statement about the way that the Australian government was addressing the social determinants of health and inequalities.

They used the example of PHIDU as the example of what they were doing as a major step towards addressing the social inequalities, which were leading to health, inequity.

PHIDU’s influence doesn't stop at government decisions. Its data is also widely used to guide industry and education sectors.

JG: We have a huge number of people using the website every year and many of those are from government agencies who are doing strategic planning and policy development. The government is one level of industry, obviously, that are great users, at state level, the local government level, as well as the national level. But also the big consulting firms are often after our data, as well as smaller consultants and advisors are major users of the data.

They often ask us if we've got something or we can develop something in a different way, and we are able to respond. We have responses quite often from people in the field - one relating to our latest release was a radiologist working in Western Australia around the Kalgoorlie area. He was developing a report that he wanted to send to the Commonwealth Department Of Health to suggest this particular program and an approach to indigenous health.

He wrote saying that he'd just seen our latest release and he was finding it very useful in supporting him in writing this report. There are people across Australia who use the data, another one from a university who are doing some modelling and want to know if they can use our data freely to build into their models, looking at change in social impacts of various programs.

We are working with universities in Victoria, Northern Territory and in New South Wales. They ask us about putting the data together for some particular report or some particular project. The New South Wales Aboriginal Health Council, the Royal Flying Doctor Service - all of these people have recently come to us and said that they want to use the data for a particular purpose.

We get quite a lot of response from educators, and we've also done broader things - we put out a major publication on a hundred years of public health from over the 1900s to just into the early 2000s about how advocacy and action has come about to bring changes in public health, whether it's through safety belts, water safety, all sorts of areas that we've followed.

It's been a major publication and a major resource for the teachers in public health.

Increasingly local media have also been using the data from PHIDU to campaign for a range of factors, such as better health services in their local area.

JG: Over the last five years, whenever we put that sort of dataset out the regional papers, really pick it up and bring it down to their local area.

It really does make a change and some people have actually said in those areas that they've used it as a challenge to get on and work within their community to see what they can do about eating better, exercising and getting a better lifestyle to reduce some of the obesity down, so that it becomes less of a burden on their health.

You can put the same dataset out one year and it will hardly cause a ripple. You leave at a year later and it's virtually the same data, things haven't changed much, but if somebody picks it up and presents it in a certain way, others then follow. That's what happened with the information about the fact that we can measure the halfway age in which people die in suburbs.

We see this huge range and that did spark a lot of interest and it really did spread like wildfire across the county.

And the awareness of the work of continues to grow. The data has now become a national resource.

JG: In Australia we've been very slow to come to linking data, whereas Scandinavian countries and other European countries have linked data.

We always felt the poor cousins in the earlier days. It's now come to the point where a lot of those countries are actually looking at the geographic level data, because it gives you a population group of five to 10,000 people, and you get the power of the numbers looking at their health rather than just the individuals.

Our work has had that strength of focus. We've certainly done, more recently, reports on the Western Pacific region for the World Health Organisation in Philippines. I think that's just become so important in Australia and so embedded. It is so widely used, and it's become a national resource.

It would be a different world and it would be a harder world for many people to do their job without this background information,

It's an important achievement and Professor Glover remains committed to his research. And it's a passion shared by Dr Athena Vongalis-Macrow.

AVM: Most researchers, if you dig down to why they do the research they do, it is a personal response and a personal passion. And it's the same for me, I was curious why different countries did education differently. How students responded and what were the conditions like. Education determines everything.

It's really a basic human right and from that basic human right, an individual has a capacity to really shape their life and their future and take more control of it.

Every country values education, they know it's merit, it's virtue and it contributes not only to the individual and their particular prospects, but also to their communities and more broadly to each nation and our global community as well.

Dr Vongalis-Macrow’s research has taken her on an interdisciplinary and international journey.

AVM: When we're talking about education, it doesn't happen in a vacuum. Often the type of education, how we value it, how we structure it is a reflection of the society because the social values and the beliefs of the society actually form a large part of the curriculum and then how we teach it.

From that position of sociology, I started looking at education systems. How systems work and who makes them work and how to improve and so forth. That led me towards education leadership, looking at the leaders role in effecting systems change and ensuring that education systems function in a way that bring prosperity to all those involved.

My work with UNESCO was looking at the secondary education system in Malaysia. What we tried to do there was look at how to make it more equitable because there was a huge gap between the rural students and the students living in urban areas.

We partnered with some local agencies there and a university to look at different programs and whether we could make some sort of shift in the equality of outcomes for students.

My latest one in the UAE, I had the privilege of teaching a group of great postgraduate women. UAEs amazing because they're rapidly developing and amazing in terms of their technologies.They want to develop their people to be able to take control of their own education systems.

The concerns are very global and there's always opportunity to partner with others to solve common problems. What we try and do is build in those learnings in our research, even though they may come from very diverse countries, and see whether they are appropriate for us.

Finland is kind of the epitome of the best education system in many ways. It's very equitable, well-resourced, well attended, well-respected teachers and so forth. There's a lot of learnings from Finland that we can look at and try and embed into our own systems.

Some of them don't work because Finland is not such a multicultural country as Australia, for example, so we can't just carte blanche, take some of their learnings and apply them here. We have to research and say, well what would work here, what wouldn't work here? Because we have such a multicultural country, and we have a lot of diversity in our students.

When researching the influence of COVID on education policy, Dr Vongalis-Macrow and her CRES team discovered key differences across countries.

AVM: What we found is that most countries, developed countries like Australia, they decided because of COVID everyone went online and there was a lot of issues with that.

When we looked at policies from African countries, for example, they didn't have the technology to go online, so they created learning packs. And teachers went to visit students in their houses.

The way that the people maintained the social relationships - the teacher and the student and the family during this time of crisis, I think is an important learning.

The CRES team have taken concepts from sustainability to fuel their education research and one of the key questions they're asking is, what does quality education mean?

AVM: One of the sustainability development goals is number four - it's about quality education. We have that in the forefront where we're shaping our research projects, because we believe that for education to continue, yes, it must be sustainable, but at the same time, it has to maintain a certain quality and it has to be equitable.

Technology can work either for good or not so good. If it's open and accessible to people, then you can imagine girls in rural areas having access to technology to be able to go to school. However, if technology is exclusive and not made open, or it costs a lot to update or it's branded and you have to pay for things, then you can imagine that it can exacerbate equity outcomes.

We've got a very diverse group of researchers, each with his own take. Some researchers are interested in gender and the education of girls, other researchers are interested in the concept of mental health and impact on communities and individuals.

Students from around the world have also been invited to have their say. In 2020, over 7,000 high education students around the world shared their experiences around sustainability

AVM: This was a very important survey and we presented some of the results at one of our seminars.

Interestingly enough, that survey asked them, will you be willing to take a pay cut if you worked with a company that was more friendly in terms of sustainability and sustainable practices? Most students said they would take between a five and a 10 per cent pay cut to be able to work in a company that had sustainability as a core value.

I think there's an appetite for us at Torrens and also our research team to delve more into student driven curriculum design and how we can embed sustainability practices and concepts into our learning. For example, if we pursued it at Torrens, then we would look for corporations that would have similar values and ensure that our graduates or our students that do projects and so forth would engage with our industry partners and build those core values.

Dr Vongalis-Macrow sees the impact of her work as cumulative and really about building ideas that others can continue to build on. Part and parcel of her role with the CRES team is forging impactful partnerships with industry, government and other universities.

AVM: Business Women Australia does an amazing job because it provides an informal learning network for a lot of young entrepreneurial women.

We're hoping to do the research in terms of finding out where the women are, what they want to learn, and see then if we can create some very micro courses to help women learn these important competencies and skills and going forward.

When we're talking about innovation, a lot of innovation happens without really taking gender into account.

I think the greatest example was, I think last year, when they wanted to send a female astronaut into space and the whole program was delayed because the actual space suit they’d had designed wasn't designed for a woman. A lot of innovation that's happened is that the norm is around the male figure.

I was asked to present some of this research at a trilateral conference between the UK, Australia, and also India.

That's an example of how my interdisciplinary research journey has taken me there. I guess I'm trying to get some of the gender research going with the partnership with the Business Women Australia. It's very similar in the sense that we have entrepreneurial women, however, a lot of the programs targeting women, they’re targeting the entrepreneur as the male norm.

Obviously, there's lots of work there to be done and one of our key goals is to ensure that we build our partnerships with other universities and there's the Australian Association for Research And Education, which is the annual conference. It's a very prestigious conference and we at Torrens are presenting with The University of Melbourne, RMIT and Deakin - we're presenting our papers as a symposium and we're building our relationships to develop that partnership and that access to different data.

Dr Athena Vongalis-Macrow has been featured in over 60 publications. Her research has looked at everything from teacher’s agency to education reform. So, what does she want her legacy to be?

AVM: I really try and enable my researchers as much as I can.

So, the legacy I want to leave is through my people

In the next episode of Research that Matters.

Professor Simon Stewart: When we're ill and we think about it, it has impacts on the whole family. So, from a social fabric point of view, the less people who are sick and are able to be productive, actually helps economy.

Research that Matters was produced by Written & Recorded. This is a Torrens University Australia podcast, and I'm Clement Paligaru. To hear more, search for Research that Matters on the Torrens University website or wherever you get your podcasts.

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