Adjunct Associate Professor Gwynne is one of three Australian health researchers who has received the 2019 Research Action Awards from the Sax Institute for making a real impact to local communities.
Over the past five years, Associate Professor Gwynne has led several research projects focused on working with Indigenous people and communities in rural and remote regions to design and deliver dental health services. Aboriginal people have significantly higher rates of dental disease compared with other Australians, a problem that is further compounded for those living in rural areas.
Prof Gwynne and her team worked closely with Aboriginal communities in rural and remote New South Wales to develop an evidence-based model of oral health provision, using a diverse range of delivery methods which include fixed and mobile clinics and portable kits, supported by local Aboriginal health professionals where possible. Her research uncovers that this model provides more efficient, effective and consistent services compared with more conventional fly-in, fly-out services. Data her published research highlights that the model substantially improves health outcomes at a much lower cost.
Her team has also developed a school-based fluoride varnish program targeting primary schools with a high Aboriginal enrollment; and a TAFE scholarship program for Aboriginal students which more than tripled the completion rate from 30 per-cent to 96 per-cent. Development of both of these projects relied on on a co-design approach, where programs and services are designed in close cooperation with end-users to identify their key needs – an approach that significantly improves uptake and program success rates.
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