The University of Western Australia has been recognised in Australia in the Engagement and Impact Assessment 2018-2019 National Report, which provides a national snapshot of how university research translates into real-world benefits for society.
UWA received the highest ratings for Western Australian universities on all items scored: impact, approach and engagement, with 14 areas classed as high, seven medium and one low.
The areas of Engineering and Studies in Human Society at UWA were classed as high across all three items. Some of UWA’s high impact research projects highlighted in the report include:
- The risk of neural tube defect, which leads to the development of spina bifida or anencephaly, was lowered in 2009 following the introduction of mandatory fortification of wheat flour with folate. The mandatory fortification was the result of two decades of UWA researchers lobbying the Federal Government. From 2011 to 2016 there was a decrease in neural tube defect births, regardless of the mother’s culture, age, education or choice of hospital.
- Two national projects – the National Empowerment Project and The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project – have contributed significantly to the knowledge base on how to address Indigenous suicide. These projects have increased awareness in community-based and Indigenous-led solutions, as well as informing policy changes at the Federal level.
- The Child’s Play project has generated community engagement with nature-play spaces in WA schools and local communities. The researchers collaborated with Healthway, Rio Tinto, Kings Park Botanic Garden and Parks Authority, 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.
- The MMEx electronic health record system, which provides health practitioners with a patient management system. Initially developed to manage healthcare for Aboriginal people in the Kimberley, MMEx has since been used to support the health care of large indigenous populations throughout Australia as well as highly specialised care in urban settings.
- The development of cheaper and safer offshore pipelines to reduce the cost of building and maintenance in oil and gas infrastructure. This has been achieved through the delivery of new design models that have been adopted worldwide and which now feature in international standards for pipeline design.
- The development of an MRI-based technology to replace liver biopsies in patients who need their liver iron concentration measured. The non-invasive procedure involves almost no risk while biopsy is linked to significant pain, bleeding, bile lead and even death. To date, more than 45,000 patient measurements have been made using the new method.