ESSA announce vital funding boost for two Australian researchers

7 November 2023

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) has provided crucial funding to support two Australian researchers in their groundbreaking studies on exercise oncology and the involvement of First Nations women in sports.

Dr Kim Edmunds from The University of Queensland and Associate Professor Clare Minahan from Griffith University have been awarded $50,000 each to continue their world-leading research.

As a leading authority for tertiary-trained exercise and sports science professionals in Australia, ESSA’s Research Grants have spearheaded new discoveries since 2021.

The 2023 grants promote research on two topics - the economic evaluation of the workforce and the exploration of innovative roles for sports scientists.

ESSA President Dr Brendan Joss said the new grants will help understand the economics of exercise oncology services and develop a new cultural guideline for professionals in the world of exercise and sport science.

“Over the past 3 years ESSA’s competitive research grants have facilitated new and significant research conducted in the exercise and sports science industry,” said Dr Brendan Joss.

“Our latest grant recipients’ trailblazing research will underpin the development and sustainability of our Australian exercise and sports science professionals and we’re incredibly proud to support them.”

“ESSA offers competitive research grants in alignment with our vision and purpose to enhance performance, health and well-being for the benefits of society and the professions.”

Investigating models of exercise oncology implementation and costs, Dr Kim Edmunds from The University of Queensland said while the benefits of exercise oncology have been well-documented, few studies have examined a real-world context.

This important project will measure the benefits of Accredited Exercise Physiologists in providing exercise services to cancer patients. Exercise referrals in oncology are low with inconsistent uptake and problematic patient adherence.

“We are very thankful for the opportunity ESSA has provided us in funding this research and we hope to contribute to a paradigm shift in exercise oncology,” said Dr Kim Edmunds.

“We need better government funded provision of exercise oncology and this is a step on the path to a stronger evidence-base”.

A value-based framework will be used to investigate costs, outcomes, patient and practitioner experience in the implementation of exercise oncology programs at three sites in Western Australia. With the aim of contributing to more sustainable provision of services.

Sports participation and sport professional’s cultural proficiencies are also under the microscope, as Associate Professor Clare Minahan from Griffith University will investigate barriers to sports pathways for First Nations women athletes in the sport of rugby league.

"First Nations girls are active in sport at a level that is higher than their non-First Nations counterparts. However, this is not maintained in adulthood where participation for First Nations women in sport drops to under 30 percent,” said Clare.

“Sports Scientists play a critical role in being able to engage young First Nations female athletes in sport and optimise the sports pathway.

“It is important that we provide knowledge and skills that are culturally sensitive to Sports Scientists that can help turn around this alarming attrition rate.”

Research grant applications opened earlier this year and required researchers to submit their application before a panel decision.

Recipients must provide reports to ESSA and dissemination of the research findings will occur at the conclusion of projects, to support exercise and sports professionals.

More details of the 2023 ESSA Research Grants are available online at ESSA Research Grants.

Associate Professor Clare Minahan

Dr Kim Edmunds and her team