“Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.”
– Wernher von Braun
Maternal Health Access in Regional Australia
There is limited access to maternal healthcare in rural areas of Australia, with birthing clinics closing and putting strain on larger clinics and hospitals to continue care for patients hours away by car. Midwives are required to attend a certain number of births per year to retain their credentials, which require them to locate out of regional areas to meet their quota (due to lower birth rates comparable from rural to metropolitan areas). This leaves regional areas without a midwife to attend to births, putting both mother and child at further risk, particularly if there is a large distance between a residence and the regions medical clinic or hospital.
Water Pollution in Australia
In the wake of these natural disaster events, commonly bushfires in Australian summers or, more recently, flooding due to extreme weather events, the commonality surrounds the recovery of Australia. Though all recovery is essential, infrastructure (including homes and roads) and the environment (including people, animals and nature) are the main areas focused on. With this research area, we decided to look at the natural environment and more long-term impacts of natural disasters. We found that water pollution was a more significant impact on the broader ecosystem within the environment. As contaminants from these disasters eventually settle into waterways (through direct contact or run-off in its wake) and impact catchments for those in that area, it can then impact natural habitats as well as limit safe drinking water in the region.
Australia’s air quality is some of the best in the world but is often impacted drastically by extreme weather events, which can bring Australia’s quality ranking to zero. PM2.5 (pollutants particles with a diameter of 2.5mm or less) are increasing in Australia’s air, regardless of extreme weather events. These pollutants contribute to health impacts, including resulting in diseases and deaths.
Malnutrition in Australian Hospitals
Malnutrition is often an overlooked issue within the Australian healthcare system. Around 5,400 patients yearly become malnourished in hospitals, often resulting in extended hospital stays and increased health risks. It is often caused by poor diet, nutrient loss and complications due to the illness occurring at the time. There is also a limit in options for patient diet requests within the healthcare system, which is sometimes separated depending on the public or private sectors of Australian healthcare. While adhered to where possible, dietary requirements may also be hindered by a lack of variety and options for patients. This impacts the healthcare system with longer patient stays and the patient’s quality of life and overall health.
Prescription Drug Overdoses
Hospital admissions in Australia due to paracetamol-related overdoses have increased by 3.8% each year. here increasing complexity with dosages that are related to mixing everyday medications unknowingly. There is a higher risk for those over 75 years of age due to a lack of awareness of what dosages and medications are safely used than younger adults. This area looks at the impact on human health, including ongoing risks and possible death.
Drug Addiction Victim Support
Victims of drug addiction have limited support available to assist in non-judgemental, safe and effective health outcomes. This results in dangers and unsafe habits and risks not only to the victim, but also to their family, their friends and the wider community. There is also little understanding in general about drug addictions, leading to judgements that lead the victim to feel too ashamed to speak up or ask for help. This stigma is crucial to address, as there is not enough support for drug addiction victims to reach out and seek that help confidently properly.
Smoking in Australia
Tobacco smoking is one of Australia’s largest causes of preventable illness and disease, with 1 in 8 deaths directly resulting from tobacco use. There are 69 carcinogenic chemicals in one cigarette, leading to health issues including cancers, heart disease, emphysema and more. This area will also look at the stigmas with smoking and quitting supports and the impact of smoking on one’s immediate inner circle, including family and friends.
Factory Fires & Hazardous Chemicals
Hazardous materials within factory settings, mainly recycling, can often cause fires and, therefore, dangerous workplaces and negative environmental impacts. These waste fires can occur during any part of the recycling journey, from collection to transport to landfill disposal. This area looks at the impact of environmental health and its flow-on effect on human health and safety.
Animal Road Hazards
Australian fauna often impacts road accidents due to unpredictable behaviour and the inability of drivers to actively see, react and safely respond to the animal in the way. Though the highest rate of incidents is due to larger animals like kangaroos, resulting in larger road accidents, there is also risk from smaller animals, like echidnas, which can often go unreported as a road incident. This will explore the well-being of Australians on roads and the well-being of Australian fauna life.
Accidental Chemical Poisoning
Accidental chemical poisoning is the second leading injury to children in Australia, with over 3000 children admitted to hospitals in NSW. Chemicals, including carbon monoxide, battery buttons, cleaning and other household chemicals, are the main contributors. There is a lack of education on safe chemical storage and appropriate supervision.
Delay in Medical Assessments
There has been a significant delay in Australian medical assessments due to the pandemic limiting access for people to attend doctor’s appointments. This is also impacted by lack of awareness about what could be wrong and when is the right time to see a doctor, as well as anxiety or unsureness when going to a doctor. This could impact the future of the health of Australians and the future of the healthcare system, both potentially impacted by declining health due to delayed diagnosis of more common ailments.
*This area was an addition to our research areas at the culmination of our Exploring Ideas at CERN intensive in November 2022.
We started off by getting to know each other and found that we jumped right into working together to explore SDG 3 and understanding our problem areas. We were able to discuss straight away what we needed to do for the beginning of our project and are off to a great start! We’re extremely excited to start the CBI A3 Project!
Quote of the Week:
“Your keyboard is very clicky.” –Nildene to Kieran, who remotely dialled into class. (We love a tappy keyboard!)
- Start looking into more specific problem areas identified from our initial research
- Start drafting our opportunity cards
- Look at our CERN and/or ATTRACT technologies
- Start packing for our Geneva trip!