Research Engagement and ImpactBe Your Best for Impact

SHAPE program

Research can not only engage directly with a community, but can then impact beyond the immediate academic research outputs to society in general. The Australian Research Council (ARC) defines Impact as: ‘research impact is the contribution that research makes to economy, society and environment, beyond the contribution to academic research’ in their guidelines for the ARC Pilot Engagement Study.(1) In our continuing series on the upcoming Excellence in Research Australia round, we now look at what impact research at Flinders has had, starting with the Flinders-Panthers Be Your Best Program.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) lists a lack of physical activity as one of the 10 leading risk factors for premature death worldwide. Figures presented in January 2015 by the WHO provide the frightening statistic that one in four adults is not active enough. The effects of insufficient physical activity include heightening the risk of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

To further compound the problem, epidemiological research in Australia shows insufficient physical activity is often found in communities in low-socioeconomic areas where its effects are heightened by poor nutrition. Both physical activity and poor nutrition are major modifiable risk factors in the reduction of a number of chronic lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Research conducted by Professor Murray Drummond and the SHAPE (Sport, Health and Physical Education) team at Flinders University in partnership with a popular local sporting club, has designed and tested an innovative health project with schools in the local area to assist in modifying behaviours in young Australians and thereby promoting healthier choices.

The effects of engaging in increased physical activity for children go beyond the health outcomes listed for adults. Children and adolescents who undertake regular physical activity and enjoy good nutrition show greater personal responsibility and improved group cooperation than those who did not. Research conducted by Flinders SHAPE Centre showed child-focussed programs to enhance physical activity and improved nutrition were more successful when these activities were associated with inspirational individuals within a child’s community. So they set out to use this research to improve lives.

Flinders-Panthers: Be Your Best

The Flinders – Panthers Be Your Best program was designed to build on healthy living messages already in place at schools by regularly bringing fruit and vegetables, fun activities and local sports heroes (Panthers footballers) into the children’s school environment to promote physical activity and good nutrition as positive lifestyle choices. Run by University students together with Panthers footballers, the program enjoyed phenomenal success with the children and their communities. School principals hosting the initiative were excited by the response it received from both the students themselves and the parents and teachers supporting them. Working with the footballers gave the program a degree of ‘cool’ that working with teachers and parents did not have. The Flinders – Panthers Be Your Best program had a different role from regular school lessons, namely the promotion of key lifestyle concepts with positive reinforcement. In that way the children could engage with role models on a peer-to-peer basis rather than in a teacher-student way. These interactions inspired the children to a healthier lifestyle because it was something they had seen someone they admired doing, and that being healthy was ‘cool’.

"In terms of academic impact this research has resulted in a number of important research papers and international book chapters that will be accessed by scholars around the world to emulate the program in their own unique settings. From a practical and ‘real life' perspective we have impacted the lives of several hundred children by changing attitudes and behaviours associated with physical activity and nutrition in regions where these aspects of health are poorest. Through sport, and by utilising sport and PE students as agents of change, we have also played a role in promoting children's awareness in these low socioeconomic localities that university is a ‘cool’ place to be. The potential to be interrupt the cycle of education attrition is a real prospect for families where higher education is not a high priority," said Murray.

In addition to the predicted outcomes of the program, working with University students had unforeseen positive consequences for the children involved. All schools involved in the initiative are located in low socio-economic areas with few positive career and educational opportunities. By giving the children regular and positive contact with University students from similar backgrounds, the idea that there was more to life than school and possible unemployment was invigorating to the participants. Teachers reported that students engaged with the program expressed significantly increased interest in attending high school and seeking tertiary education as a direct result of engaging with the Flinders students in the Flinders – Panthers Be Your Best program.

By connecting children with accessible sporting role models in an environment focused on healthy lifestyle choices, the Flinders – Panthers Be Your Best program has been a great success. SHAPE director, Murray, is working with the South Australian National Football League to expand the program into additional schools and working with additional football clubs in the future to bring the impact of the program to a greater part of the society.


For further Flinders Research Impact stories, see the Research Impact section. For assistance in creating a Flinders Research Impact case study, contact Dr Brodie Beales.

(1) ARC Pilot Study overview information -

More posts in "Research Engagement and Impact" series:

  1. (13 Dec 2018) ECR Spotlight - Dr Ben Lewis
  2. (29 Nov 2018) Impact Seed Funding – supporting our Flinders ECRs – Dr David Smith
  3. (29 Nov 2018) Research Roundup - 29 November 2018
  4. (15 Nov 2018) Impact Seed Funding – supporting our Flinders ECRs – Dr Lua Perimal-Lewis
  5. (14 Nov 2018) Research Roundup - 15 November 2018
  6. (01 Nov 2018) Flinders research from an undergraduate class to a record breaking swim attempt
  7. (01 Nov 2018) Research Roundup - 1 November 2018
  8. (31 Oct 2018) ECR Spotlight - Dr Bev Rogers
  9. (31 Oct 2018) Flinders researchers trip to Germany on bringing science to market
  10. (18 Oct 2018) Melbourne and Canberra fellowships advance research and leadership skills for Flinders researcher
  11. (18 Oct 2018) Impact Seed Funding – supporting our Flinders ECRs - Dr Linlin Ma
  12. (18 Oct 2018) Research Roundup - 18 October 2018
  13. (04 Oct 2018) How can Australian innovation create new industries and jobs?
  14. (04 Oct 2018) Research Roundup - 4 October 2018
  15. (27 Sep 2018) Saving Nemo at Ngeringa Winery
  16. (20 Sep 2018) Assisting the UN and developing nations on how to measure wellbeing
  17. (20 Sep 2018) Equity Hub to assist translating research into change
  18. (06 Sep 2018) Steps to improve gender diversity in coastal geoscience and engineering
  19. (23 Aug 2018) Finding the invisible traces
  20. (09 Aug 2018) Diving in Deep to strengthen links with UNESCO members
  21. (09 Aug 2018) Impact Seed Funding – supporting our Flinders ECRs
  22. (09 Aug 2018) Older Adults engaging for a better quality of life
  23. (08 Aug 2018) The scientist’s guide to a successful career in academia
  24. (27 Jul 2018) Flinders aiming to lead the blueeconomy
  25. (27 Jul 2018) Can you have a conversation with a computer?
  26. (12 Jul 2018) Flinders linking with arts and culture to explore their real value
  27. (12 Jul 2018) WHO internship for Flinders researcher
  28. (28 Jun 2018) Flinders linkage grants success
  29. (28 Jun 2018) Flinders’ led project top in Radiation Research
  30. (18 Jun 2018) Nothing going to waste - Flinders NIH Success
  31. (18 Jun 2018) ECR Spotlight - In Conversation with Dr Sam Elliott
  32. (29 May 2018) Flinders leading the reviews to improve remote health
  33. (17 May 2018) Generating conversation through The Conversation
  34. (15 May 2018) ECR Spotlight - Dr Ashok Manoharan 2018
  35. (03 May 2018) Flinders’ Archaeologist off to Cambridge for a year
  36. (26 Mar 2018) New chapter of Indigenous history told through food
  37. (08 Mar 2018) Flinders linking with Indigenous groups to explore aspects of colonial Australia
  38. (22 Feb 2018) ECR Spotlight - Ian Moffat
  39. (21 Feb 2018) Flinders working to Beat Cancer
  40. (25 Jan 2018) Why are little penguins declining?
  41. (25 Jan 2018) Scimex - Register now to be a part of breaking news
  42. (24 Jan 2018) ECR Spotlight - Alice Clement
  43. (21 Dec 2017) A Flinders first - automated launch and recovery for autonomous underwater vessels
  44. (13 Dec 2017) 2017 Vice-Chancellor's Award for Early Career Researchers
  45. (11 Dec 2017) ECR Spotlight - Vishnu KK Nair
  46. (06 Dec 2017) NHMRC success for Flinders
  47. (24 Nov 2017) Aiming to improve the health, education and wellbeing of children
  48. (17 Nov 2017) Accelerating the Interplay Wellbeing Framework
  49. (16 Nov 2017) 2018 Visiting International Research Fellows to Flinders
  50. (15 Nov 2017) ECR Spotlight - Ashokkumar Manoharan
  51. (15 Nov 2017) 2018 Flinders Endeavour Scholars and Fellows announced
  52. (14 Nov 2017) Time to Bragg about science writing
  53. (10 Nov 2017) Flinders Forensic Science cleans up at Awards
  54. (10 Nov 2017) Flinders successes in the recent ARC grant round
  55. (30 Oct 2017) Students Present Around the World
  56. (20 Oct 2017) Over $8 Million to Flinders from the National Palliative Care round
  57. (19 Oct 2017) ECR Spotlight - Sam Schultz
  58. (17 Oct 2017) Flinders' Fresh Scientists in the Pub
  59. (11 Oct 2017) Indigenous knowledge, not just for Indigenous communities
  60. (06 Oct 2017) Leading Drug and Alcohol researchers at Flinders’ NCETA secure $1.7 million in funding
  61. (05 Oct 2017) ECR Spotlight - Margaret Shanafield
  62. (28 Sep 2017) Our Distinguished Geographer
  63. (07 Sep 2017) ECR Spotlight - George Karpetis
  64. (01 Sep 2017) Eureka! Prize for blood test for bowel cancer recurrence
  65. (22 Aug 2017) Different environments, different DNA, different dolphins?
  66. (17 Aug 2017) ECR Spotlight - Dr Harriet Whiley
  67. (03 Aug 2017) ECR Spotlight - Giselle Rampersad
  68. (17 Jul 2017) Time to Scope your research - FAST
  69. (17 Jul 2017) Time to Scope your research - Hoverflies
  70. (13 Jul 2017) Tips from a first time interviewee
  71. (12 Jul 2017) Saving Nemo at the Star of Greece
  72. (07 Jul 2017) Invasion of the European crabs
  73. (20 Jun 2017) Fossil finds bring Australia's evolutionary history to life
  74. (07 Jun 2017) Peer Prize up for grabs
  75. (02 Jun 2017) Tracking the marine ecosystems in South Australia
  76. (29 May 2017) Be Your Best for Impact
  77. (18 May 2017) Aiming to catch criminals as never before
  78. (05 May 2017) Excavating with and in a Community
  79. (29 Apr 2017) What does engagement look like? Community-initiated research.
  80. (24 Apr 2017) Planning for one of the world’s youngest nations
  81. (07 Apr 2017) Pitching ON tasty seaweed jelly
  82. (29 Mar 2017) Best and Brightest for Hearts
  83. (27 Mar 2017) The Best Student Publications - Flinders 2016 edition
  84. (16 Mar 2017) From workshop to book - Underwater archaeology and 3D
  85. (21 Dec 2016) Recent Funding Success
  86. (21 Dec 2016) Research Impact - Point of Care Testing
  87. (21 Dec 2016) New ARC College of Experts
  88. (20 Dec 2016) Flinders Celebrates - 2016 Research Successes
  89. (19 Dec 2016) Vice-Chancellor Awards for Research Excellence
  90. (19 Dec 2016) Cardiology, Mental Health Projects among NHMRC Grant Success