“Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.”

– Wernher von Braun

To kick off our project, we undertook initial research tasks in several areas of Good Health and Well-being in Australia. Between the four of us, we researched a range of areas that became the starting points to identify and understand the opportunities for change or improvement in Australia. This post is to share summaries of our starting-off points.
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.


Maternal Health Access in Regional Australia Opportunity Card

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.


Water Pollution in Australia Opportunity Card

Air Pollution

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.


Air Pollution in Australia Opportunity Card

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.


Malnutrition in Australian Hospitals

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.


Prescription Drug Overdoses Opportunity Card

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.


Drug Abuse Victim Support Opportunity Card

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.


Smoking in Australia Opportunity Card

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.


Factory Fires & Hazardous Chemicals Opportunity Card

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.


Animal Road Hazards in Australia Opportunity Card

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.


Accidental Chemical Poisonings Opportunity Card

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.


Delay in Medical Assessments Opportunity Card

Women's Health
There has always been a disparity in women’s health where chronic illnesses and non-communicable diseases, such as cancers, have been detected much later in life. Chronic health issues include illnesses such as endometriosis (endo) and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and cancers in the reproductive system (including cervical, ovarian and breast cancers). This is contributed to by several factors, including lack of awareness of symptoms (causing women to think that their ‘symptoms’ are normal as part of their body), lack of reliability in symptoms (symptoms are in such a wide range that they present in different ways for different women), and gender bias in women’s medical information.


Women’s Health Opportunity Card

Art Therapy
Art therapists struggle with a lack of resources, funding, time and effective research to continue to provide and maintain accessible support systems for their patients using creative therapies. There is little recognition in medical research due to a lack of access to major research limitations when acquiring quantitative data on the relationship between mental health and art therapy, though there is evidence of its benefits in promoting positive emotions and healthy stress reduction.


Art Therapy Opportunity Card

Vision Impairment*
Visually impaired Australians are more likely to suffer from depression, social isolation and physical injury. Their independence is hindered when being sighted is a given, and they rely on aids to assist with their everyday life. There is a disconnect between a person and those around them, their friends, their family and their community. Young adults with visual impairments are five times more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, while the elderly who have visual impairments worry for their future as they may continue to lose their independence. This area would allow us to explore giving independence back to visually impaired people to improve social interaction and mitigate mental health issues.


Visual Impairment Opportunity Card

*This area was an addition to our research areas at the culmination of our Exploring Ideas at CERN intensive in November 2022.

Our research, currently, is designed to give us an overview of what the problem spaces there may be potential to work within in the coming weeks and months. Our next steps look at taking these opportunity areas to the CBI A3 2-week intensive at CERN and continue to research and develop our ideas collaborative within the Ctrl+Z team, but also within the Design Factory Global Network teams who will also be attending. We’re looking forward to exploring these areas in more detail and see how the information will continue to support us throughout the next parts of the project.

Team Snapshot

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!)


Next Steps

  • 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!