27 September 2022
RE-FRESH researchers Dr Tara Boelsen– Robinson and Dr Miranda Blake have been awarded a $100,000 grant from The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre to advance healthy food retail in healthcare settings in Queensland.
The pair’s project application was one of five to be selected for the new “Rapid Response” grants program, which supports mid-career researchers affiliated with the Prevention Centre network to progress applied research related to the prevention of chronic disease, for projects within a 12-month period.
The partnership project with Health & Wellbeing Queensland and the Nourish Network will co-create tools supporting retailers, health promotion practitioners and other stakeholders to improve the healthiness of food retail environments in healthcare settings (ie. hospital cafeterias), at scale, and identify a best-practice co-creation approach for tool development to support healthy food retail implementation.
The overall aim is to improve population health by transforming the environments in which people buy their food and drinks.
Dr Boelsen-Robinson said healthcare settings’ commitment to supporting their community’s health made them an ideal setting for work to advance this important work.
“Our team has already demonstrated that by working together with all stakeholders, and valuing their perspectives and expertise at different stages of the process, we can develop solutions that are practical and successful in the real world.
“We are excited to be working alongside Health and Wellbeing Queensland and the Nourish Network on this partnership project to allow people to be able to access health-promoting retail food environments in healthcare settings, knowing that we are stronger when we unite to drive change together.”
About the Co-lead Investigators:
Dr Tara Boelsen-Robinson is a Dean’s Executive Fellow in Deakin University’s Institute for Health Transformation whose research within RE-FRESH has directly informed healthy food retail policy implementation, and led to invited contributions to key international documents, including the Global Nutrition Report.
Dr Boelsen-Robinson was selected to the internationally competitive 2020 World Heart Federation Emerging Leaders Programme, holds degrees in public health and business (PhD in Public Health, 2019; MPH, 2014; BCom, 2010), and has a record of strategic, influential research collaborations, leading a program of work exploring the implementation and evaluation of healthy food retail policies in community organisations.
Her work has focused on collaboration, with a notable partnership project with YMCA Victoria to demonstrate the feasibility and effectiveness of a healthy drink policy achieving incredible results – including sustained implementation of the healthy drink policy at 60 YMCA locations (16 million contacts/year); and informing the development of VicHealth’s healthy drink program, ‘Water in Sport’ which has been implemented in sporting settings in eight local governments.
Dr Miranda Blake is an Alfred Deakin Post-doctoral Research Fellow (2022-23) in Deakin University Institute for Health Transformation’s Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition (GLOBE) (a WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention), who leads a national program of work within RE-FRESH, the NHMRC-funded Centre of Research Excellence in Food Retail Environments for Health.
She holds a PhD in public health (Monash University, 2019), and is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (B Nutr Diet, 2012; Hons B Nutr Diet, 2013).
Dr Blake has a wealth of experience in public health nutrition, implementation science, stakeholder management, and translation of research to policy and practice. She has authored eight commissioned reports for local, state, and international governments that respond to real-world nutrition policy evidence needs. Outcomes have included VicHealth adoption of recommendations to strengthen local government food policy; and a UNICEF research agenda for healthy food retail in the Asia-Pacific region. Dr Blake is founder and chair of the Nourish Network Local Government Food Policy Research action team which brings together local government practitioners and researchers to develop a research and action agenda for local government.