Our Illawarra context

IHMRI Our Illawarra context  

Our Illawarra Context

IHMRI's point of difference, as a health and medical research institute, is its regional context, community-centred focus and commitment to addressing regional health issues.

IHMRI is based on the University of Wollongong's (UOW) main campus. Wollongong is Australia’s ninth largest city and the economic hub of the Illawarra/Shoalhaven region, which is home to more than 370,000 people living in towns and cities within the Local Government areas of Wollongong, Kiama, Shellharbour and Shoalhaven.

The region has a large geographic footprint, covering almost 250 kilometres of the south coast of New South Wales, with many people living in rural and remote areas. The region’s population is more economically disadvantaged than the rest of NSW, is culturally and linguistically diverse and has a higher proportion of people aged 75 and over.

The health of Illawarra residents is, on average, poorer than for  NSW residents overall, with people more likely to be risk drinkers, be overweight or obese and experience psychological distress. With prevalent chronic disease and a rapidly ageing population, there is also a high number of potentially-avoidable hospitalisations.

IHMRI’s founding partner, the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) is committed to improving the quality of clinical care and range of health services available to regional residents and in 2012 released a draft ten-year health care services plan to address these and other issues.

IHMRI has strong links into the ISLHD’s major teaching hospital, The Wollongong Hospital and the UOW's Graduate School of Medicine, which aims to produce doctors with a commitment to patient-centred, evidence-based medical practice, including for general practices in regional, rural and remote community settings. In 2011, IHMRI and the GSM supported the establishment of the Illawarra and Southern Practice Research Network to advance research capacity in general practice in the region.

While the Illawarra faces many health challenges, its stable and accessible population base, which is set to grow to over 425,000 by 2022, makes it ideal for population health studies. Therefore IHMRI is building a comprehensive approach to population health and prevention research to address issues such as chronic disease, risk drinking and psychological distress.

A number of large longitudinal and observational studies are being undertaken to better understand the long-term health of the community and health behaviours of local residents, while intervention studies are seeking to identify effective population-based approaches to promote better health and prevent and/or better manage lifestyle related conditions.
 

Last reviewed: 11 November, 2016

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Strategic Plan 2017-2021

Strategic plan 2017-2021

Our new Strategic Plan 2017-2021 [PDF 522KB] outlines our priorities, strategies, targets and how we will measure success.