The AURIN Workbench: An Online Spatial Analytical platform empowering health research and other geographic analysis in academia and government

Mr Xavier Goldie



The Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN) is a free national resource that empowers academic and government geographic researchers, planners, policy and decision-makers to make better decisions for Australia’s human settlements and their future development. The AURIN workbench is Australia’s single largest resource for accessing clean, integrated, spatially enabled and research-ready data on issues surrounding health and wellbeing, socio-economic metrics, transportation, and land-use. Users can also access a range of powerful analytical tools for neighbourhood walkability, spatial clustering, data manipulation, economic analysis, and statistical analysis.

Completely free of charge, the AURIN Workbench is a secure and powerful online environment that allows all levels of government, academia and researchers to access, analyse and visualise quality data and generate meaningful knowledge – urban intelligence – the evidence base for informed decisions for the smart growth and the sustainable development of Australia.

In this presentation I will focus on the impacts that the AURIN workbench has had in very diverse manifestations of health research, from neighbourhood scale analyses of active transport behaviour in children, to nationwide scale analyses of the uptake and efficacy of Hepatitis treatment across Australia.

The experience of living on contaminated land and its effect on mental health and notions of home

Mr Rupert Legg1

1Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, Australia


Environmental contamination poses considerable risk to the health and wellbeing of residents living in its close proximity. Attention to date has mostly been on the quantifiable physiological and biological effects that exposure produces, yet less is known about the experience of living in an affected area and the indirect, subjective impacts this has on mental health. Adding to this area of inquiry, this paper questions how notions of the home change and affect mental health after an awareness of the contamination. By conducting a narrative review of the literature, research that has investigated the correlation between living on contaminated land and mental health outcomes was collated. The results highlighted a number of factors that have been observed to exacerbate psychological symptoms, including sense of place, home ownership and knowledge of the contamination. These factors are then extended to a consideration of whether people are likely to want to move away from their homes once they become aware of contamination, a question yet to be examined in any great detail in the literature. This review concludes by suggesting further empirical research is conducted on the relationship between mental health, contaminated land and the home/house.


Rupert Legg is a PhD Candidate at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney. He is interested in the health and wellbeing effects of environmental hazards and what can be done to minimise the risks they pose.


“I used to be a gardener”: Communal gardens as conduits for Age Care residents to activity, identity, and to others

Dr Pauline Marsh1, Ms Hannah Fielder1

1UTAS, Hobart, Australia


This paper reports on a recent study conducted in the south of Tasmania involving residents of a rural age care facility. We aimed to understand how residents, including people living with dementia, access communal garden sites and whether this fostered the acts of gardening and social engagement. The research arose from concerns raised by members of a supported community gardening program, DIGnity.  For the first 6 months of this unique therapeutic horticulture program, residents from the local RACF were regularly attending. However, after a winter break the residents did not return, and an on-site garden had been established in the facility.

Was this on-site RACF garden a more suitable site, or a less-than adequate solution designed to accommodate institutional restrictions?

Using a process consent method, 13 semi-structured interviews were held with residents, family members and staff. Results show multi-faceted ways residents relate to and access communal garden sites and important ways people living with dementia were able to maintain their identities as gardeners, improve their quality of life and assuage loneliness. Importantly, they enabled people to find meaning and maintain their sense of self. However, accessing the communal garden sites both in and outside of the facility was challenging.


Dr Pauline Marsh has been part of the CRH research team at UTAS since 2015. Her current research interests include therapeutic space, rural community wellbeing, end-of-life care, dementia inclusivity, and rural health student placements experiences. Her work on the DIGnity Supported Community Gardening initiative in rural Tasmania has received international attention. Pauline is also an award winning filmmaker.

Utilising health data to fill service responsiveness knowledge gaps for people with traumatic injury: Presenting Epidoros-V2, a spatial data repository

Dr Ali Lakhani1, Professor Elizabeth Kendall1

1The Hopkins Centre, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Meadowbrook, Australia


Experiencing a traumatic injury is associated with adverse health and quality of life outcomes which are difficult to address. The use of hospital health services are essential to promote favourable health and wellbeing outcomes for people who have experienced a traumatic injury. In Queensland, the capacity of such services, and demand for use of these services in relation to people who have experienced a traumatic injury are largely unknown. While relevant, spatial methods are seldom employed to fill these knowledge gaps. As a response, Epidoros-V2 is a spatial data repository that will engage GIS and non-GIS users (clinicians, researchers, people who have experienced injury and non-government organisations) and support their ability to address inquiries surrounding service usage, demand, gaps, and needs. The data matrix underpinning Epidoros-V2 is presented. The matrix consists of data aligned with the domains Descriptive Health, Service Responsiveness, Service Quality, and Health Outcomes across the systems Emergency and Critical Care, Acute Treatment, Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabilitation, and Community and Disability Support Services. A series of thematic maps are presented illustrating how capacity and demand questions will be addressed via Epidoros-V2. In this regard, service gaps are clarified and further priority inquiries that will be addressed are presented.


Dr Ali Lakhani (BBA, MA, MES, PhD) is a Research Fellow with The Hopkins Centre, Menzies Health Institute Queensland. He has over 7 years’ experience working within community-based research projects that have partnered with health and social service organisations. His Program of Research utilises innovative methods and technologies to investigate features contributing to enabling environments for people with injury and/or disability. In particular, his Program considers how the accessibility of health and community services impact the health and rehabilitation outcomes of people with injury. Ali’s email address is:

John Snow would not be able to solve the Cholera epidemic with 21st century privacy laws!

A/Prof. Neil Coffee1, Dr Lukar Thornton2, Professor Mark Daniel1

1University Of Canberra, Bruce

2Deakin University, Burwood


In 1854, the Soho district in London was in the grip of a cholera outbreak with thousands sick and 600 deaths. John Snow a surgeon and general practitioner, used what is now referred to as the start of spatial epidemiology, to solve the cholera outbreak in Soho, London. In what is one of the most used examples of how spatial methods can be used to solve a health problem, John Snow mapped the cholera cases/deaths and used this to pinpoint the Broad Street pump as the likely source. Fast forward to the 21st century and this would not be possible. Health data in Australia are provided for research based on large, administrative spatial units that do not and could not be used to pinpoint or identify hot spots of health outcomes for targeted interventions. This presentation will look at two related issues associated with the use of administrative spatial units, the modifiable areal unit problem and the inconsistent use of the term neighbourhood in place-health research.


Neil is currently Associate Professor with the Centre for Research Action in Public Health, Health Research Institute at the University of Canberra and is a later career academic after senior roles in State and Local Government and has been involved in research and the application of GIS to urban planning, population, urban, and health geography for more than 30 years.

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