5 April 2023

Northern Australia’s expertise in translating health and medical research into improved health care has been recognised through an accredited Research Translation Centre, now one of 11 accredited centres nationally.

As a result of the latest round for accreditation, nine Research Translation Centres have been re-accredited and one centre, Top End Academic Health Partners (Top End Partners), has been accredited for the first time as a Research Translation Centre by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). 

Top End Partners consists of seven organisations from across the Top End of the Northern Territory (NT). These are the NT Government’s Department of Health, Danila Dilba Health Service, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation Health Service, National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, NT Primary Health Network, Charles Darwin University and Menzies School of Health Research. 

Of the 11 accredited Research Translation Centres in Australia now, four have a regional, rural, or remote focus and seven have a metropolitan or state-wide focus, with accreditation lasting for five years.  

NHMRC-accredited Research Translation Centres are collaborations between health care organisations, research and education/training organisations and are a key mechanism driving the translation of health and medical research into clinical practice, policy and health systems.  

NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso said collaboration was at the centre of research translation.   

“Translating research outcomes into patient care is critical to improving the health of Australians,” Professor Kelso said.  

“These Research Translation Centres bring together the partnerships that make that possible. NHMRC accreditation recognises the strength of these collaborations.”    

Accreditation recognises the track record of these collaborations in working together to translate research findings into evidence-based healthcare for the benefit of their patients and communities, and in building the capacity and capability of health services partners to undertake research of direct relevance and benefit to its population, in regional, rural and remote Australia.  

Top End Partners has a strong history built over decades in clinical and health services research, addressing the most pressing health issues in Northern Australia in partnership with patients, health services and communities.  

The partnership has worked collaboratively to prioritise translational health research supporting improvements in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.   

Top End Partners Board Chair and NT Department of Health Chief Executive Associate Professor Jo Norton reported that Top End Partners have facilitated numerous successful research translation projects, including a project to ensure more Aboriginal patients receive culturally safe healthcare in their first language. 

“We are already seeing great results from some of our projects,” Associator Professor Norton said. 

“The Communicate Project, which aims to improve Aboriginal patients’ experiences and outcomes of healthcare by addressing communication and safety issues, is a leading example.”  

“It has shown that the effective use of Aboriginal interpreters can reduce self-discharge, improve dialysis attendance, empowers patients and improves healthcare provider satisfaction”. 

Top End Partners Board member and Danila Dilba Health Services CEO Mr Rob McPhee said that the partnership was essential to helping elevate the voices of patients and community members.  

“At the centre of the Top End Academic Health Partners are health services, including Aboriginal community-controlled health services, that can inform translational research priorities for research and put outcomes into practice,” Mr McPhee said. 

The nine Research Translation Centres reaccredited for a further five years in the latest round based on demonstrating continued collaboration, research excellence, the translation of research into health care, and in capability and capacity-building in research and research translation, are:  

  • Central Australia Academic Health Science Network  
  • Health Translation Queensland  
  • Health Translation SA  
  • Maridulu Budyari Gumal – The Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE)   
  • Melbourne Academic Centre for Health  
  • Monash Partners Academic Health Science Centre  
  • NSW Regional Health Partners  
  • Sydney Health Partners  
  • Western Australia Health Translation Network.  

The Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre (CIRH) is currently an accredited Research Translation Centre and is not yet due for reaccreditation. 

For the first time, NHMRC has also recognised three Emerging Research Translation Centres - Tasmanian Collaboration for Health Improvement, Western Alliance Academic Health Science Centre, and WA Rural Research and Innovation Alliance. They were recognised as being collaborations with the potential to achieve accreditation but needing more time to develop. 

All 11 accredited Research Translation Centres, as well as the Emerging Centres, collaborate nationally as the Australian Health Research Alliance (AHRA). Information about AHRA, including its work on translating research for improved patient outcomes and health systems, is available on AHRA’s website

Further information on the NHMRC Research Translation Centre Initiative is available on Recognised Research Translation Centres.