Time is now for conducting research in the face of COVID-19

Research into care and self-caring solutions is needed “now more than ever” as communities around the world grapple with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, says Flinders University’s new Professor of Child Development and Disability and Dean of Research, Joanne Arciuli.

Professor Arciuli, who is contributing to the Caring Futures Institute’s Methodological Innovations enabler, says efforts to tackle the fall out of COVID-19 will be bolstered by new grant schemes for researchers.

The Flinders University Caring Futures Institute has launched two grant schemes – the COVID-19 Agility Research Grant for existing research projects affected by the pandemic and the COVID-19 Collaborative Research Grant for new projects undertaken by a team of researchers.

Between the two, researchers will share in up to $450,000 towards projects related to health or community care needs that are related to the COVID-19 response.

“We are encouraging diverse teams to put forward high quality research proposals that will have real world impact,” Prof Arciuli says.

“Funded projects will showcase the incredible research talent here at the Caring Futures Institute and provide new ways for the Institute to engage with industry and members of the community in co-design for the greater good.”

Successful applicants will be announced 8 May.

The Caring Futures Institute’s lead researcher on methodological innovations, Professor Joanne Arciuli, Dean of Research, College of Nursing & Health Sciences, Flinders University.

Prof Arciuli, who joins Flinders University after more than a decade at the University of Sydney, says the health and care industry has a responsibility to protect vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 crisis, including older people with and without health conditions, as well as disadvantaged and marginalised groups.

“People with dementia and their carers from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds can sometimes feel more isolated than others in our community,” she says.

“With a reduction in visitors and non-essential services, this feeling of isolation could be amplified during COVID-19 which is why attention to issues of cultural and linguistic diversity is critical.”

Prof Arciuli is contributing to the Caring Futures Institute’s disability research, sharing expertise built from leadership roles at the University of Sydney where she led the Children, Families and Disability Research Stream at the Centre for Disability Research and Policy. She was also Director of the Language Brain and Mind Research Node at the Sydney Centre for Language Research.

Prof Arciuli specialises in basic and applied research on speech, language, literacy, and learning in typically developing children and those with developmental disabilities, such as autism and Down syndrome.

Her most recent grant from the Australian Research Council awarded as Lead Chief Investigator, sees her partnering with colleagues from Macquarie University, University College London, and a community organisation to facilitate literacy skills in autistic children.

“I am passionate about supporting all children and young people to flourish and participate fully in society. Literacy skills are very important for positive life outcomes,” Prof Arciuli says.

“However, children with developmental disabilities are often underestimated in terms of their potential to acquire literacy skills. My team works on debunking this myth and optimising delivery of cutting edge interventions.”

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