New ARC-funded research project poised to put death in its place

A new research partnership, led by Monash Rural Health Associate Professor Rebecca Kippen, exploring the relationship between the built environment and individual health outcomes has received more than $ 440,000 in funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC) liaison.

The project, Put death in its place, in collaboration with Libraries Tasmania, will connect individuals and their families to the places where they were born, lived and died, using more than 890,000 Tasmanian population records from 1838 to 1930. Using innovative correspondence techniques and the wealth of digital archives from Tasmania, the project is the first of its kind in Australia to link a dataset of this size to a reconstructed historic landscape. It aims to assess the influence of the quality and location of housing and public infrastructure on life expectancy and other health and social outcomes.

The research team includes experts from the University of New England, the University of South Australia and the University of Guelph. Associate Professor Kippen, demographer, will be joined by an archaeologist and expert in geographic information systems, an archivist, as well as business, economic and digital historians.

“We chose to focus on Tasmania, a place with good records and a relatively small population,” Associate Professor Kippen explained.

“One aspect we are excited to explore is determining exactly when, why and where urban life expectancy exceeded rural life expectancy in Tasmania. “

The project is expected to produce a publicly accessible resource of linked data. It will also lead to a better understanding of the environmental effects on intergenerational disadvantage and health outcomes, which could inform policies aimed at addressing contemporary health challenges.

“This will be the first time that census, property and birth, marriage and death records will be linked to each other, along with the time and place they were generated. The innovative techniques that we are developing in data matching could be used in other studies. We hope that this project will serve as a model for future reconstructions of historical data, focusing on other regions of Australia. “

Professor Darryl Maybery, Director of Research at Monash Rural Health recognized the importance of this major project and the federal funding to support it.

“The success of this request from the Australian Research Council demonstrates the depth of Monash Rural Health’s research and the specialist skills of researchers at our school. We pride ourselves on our strong collaborative research partnerships – with other universities, health services, and organizations – that enable us to undertake important research that ultimately improves health outcomes for regional communities.

Put death in its place was one of five Monash University research partnerships to be funded in the latest cycle of the ARC Linkage Project, which promotes partnerships between researchers, business, industry and community organizations.

Photo credit: Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office (TAHO)

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