The Child Development and Mental Health CAG has been appointed after presenting a plan to raise the status of child development and mental health and embed its research within daily clinical work.

The new CAG was considered in the second selection round for the program in late 2022, but just missed out on being one of five groups approved at the time. The assessment panel acknowledged the Group as having great potential and Sydney Health Partners invited them to further develop their ideas during 2023.  

Co-Chair of the new CAG, Clinical Associate Professor Natalie Silove, has welcomed the awarding of full status, and says the formation of the CAG has sparked collaboration between services that work at different levels of heath care.

“It brings together Local Health Districts, the community health sector, the private sector, and the tertiary child development and specialist units,” she said. “Before this there wasn’t a platform available for the same level of collaboration and cooperation.”

The announcement of a 12th CAG was one of the highlights of the Annual Clinical Academic Group workshop, held at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Camperdown.

The workshop featured a discussion involving the research directors of four Local Health Districts. There was general agreement that the alignment of research with the needs and priorities of the health system can be facilitated by improved access to patient data to inform gaps and areas of need.

“Having easily accessible data is not just a research interest,” said Professor David Cook from Sydney Local Health District. “It can inform and improve clinical decision making.”

The Director of Research at the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, Paula Bray, said “we have a rich data set in NSW that is underutilised.

“Secure access environments and data sharing platforms are needed - and there are significant changes happening in this space - but clinician-researchers need to be clearer about what exactly they want from the health system to facilitate their research and link this to solving health system challenges.”

Professor Don Nutbeam said it was pleasing to see that since the start of the program with the appointment of six CAGs in late 2021, most Groups have moved from their start-up phase to a clearer alignment with health services priorities.

“The CAGs are uniquely structured to connect to clinical services and optimise the impact of research in our health system,” he said.

Manager of the Clinical Academic Group program, Andria Ratchford, says the CAGs are raising the profile of research translation and implementation. “We can see the potential of the Groups to increase research impact in the health services and improve grant competitiveness for their members.

“The Groups are led by highly engaged teams with solid plans to use the CAG structure to accelerate progress over the next few years. Watch this space!”