DU/DHHS/DoJAR Strategic Alliance

The Deakin University (DU), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Department of Justice and Regulation (DoJAR) Strategic Alliance exists to protect and enhance the health and social wellbeing of all people living in the Barwon-South Western Region. The alliance integrates research, teaching and practice to help create supportive environments, strengthen community actions, develop personal skills, ensure quality services and build healthy public policy.

Our history

The collaboration between Deakin and the Department of Human Services (Barwon-South Western Region) was initiated in 1998 following the identification of regional and rural public health needs.

In 2006 and 2007 a business plan was developed to establish four strategic advisory groups for planning and managing the ongoing business of the partnership. The plan outlined and identified strategic goals focused under public health forums, teaching and workforce, research and evidence-based practice, and health and wellbeing.

Towards the end of 2009 the partnership executive team undertook a major review of priorities and direction for 2010. As a result, a wider alliance was developed that sought to bring together the knowledge and resources of Deakin with the newly formed Department of Health and the Department of Human Services in the Barwon South West Region. The alliance remained committed to facilitating collaborative engagement for the benefit of people living in the region.

In 2015 the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services reintegrated into the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). In 2016 the Department of Justice and Regulation (DoJAR) joined the alliance as a full member.

Our mission

  • Broker and collaborate in innovative interdisciplinary research across faculties to engage members of the community, support evidence-based practice and policy, and encourage intersectoral action on the social determinants of health.
  • Ensure a skilled and responsive local workforce through a coordinated and collaborative approach to workforce planning and development across the region.
  • Ensure a diverse range of mechanisms are explored and supported to increase individual, organisation and communities' ability to work sustainably together to address key local issues in the region.
  • Facilitate cross-alliance representation on audit panels, course advisory committees and other strategic planning activities.
  • Develop useful community resources.

Strategic objectives

The alliance aims to:

  • be instrumental in harnessing the skills, experience and research capabilities of Deakin staff to contribute to service planning and development within DHHS and DoJAR (Barwon South Western Region)
  • create alignment between DHHS and DoJAR (Barwon South Western Region) regional priorities and Deakin's research priorities in order to identify evidence which might inform policy and practice to build community capacity and reduce disadvantage and inequality
  • contribute to the development of major government initiatives
  • harness opportunities that arise from the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Health Reform agenda
  • emphasise early intervention by focusing on local risk factors and promote a shared understanding of health and wellbeing
  • develop a coordinated and strategic approach to student placements, which address the needs of Deakin, DHHS, DoJAR, and the health and community sectors.

Our stakeholders

  • The residents and communities of the Barwon South Western Region
  • Deakin's Faculty of Health
  • Research clusters within Deakin's health and wellbeing research portfolio
  • Other faculties at Deakin with an interest in health and wellbeing issues
  • Program areas within the DHHS and DoJAR (Barwon South Western Region)
  • Deakin, DHHS and DoJAR (Barwon South Western Region) staff
  • Deakin students 
  • The workforce within the Barwon South Western Region
  • Barwon South Western planning bodies, including G21, Great South Coast and Barwon South Western primary care alliances
  • Barwon Health
  • Other relevant alliances with current memoranda of understanding (i.e. Deakin University-City of Greater Geelong Alliance).

Organisational structure


The Deakin/DHHS/DoJAR Strategic Alliance (Barwon South Western Region) is quite complex. There are various elements and stakeholders at different levels of the continuum. The degree of engagement varies from 'Associate Membership' (a networking group for stakeholders external to the formal alliance) through to the Alliance Executive, which collaborates and shares resources and strategic goals.

The structure of the alliance is adapted from the governance model for the World Health Organisation's 'Healthy Cities and Communities' and 'Health Promoting Universities' initiatives. It reflects the various degrees of commitment based upon our strategic objectives and the various levels of alliance required to fulfill them.

Alliance Executive

The Alliance Executive represents top level collaboration between the three formal partners of the alliance. 

The Alliance Executive consists of:

  • Regional Director, Barwon South West Health, DHHS
  • PVC Health, Deakin University Faculty of Health
  • Area Director, Barwon DHHS
  • Executive Director, DoJAR West Area and Barwon South West Region
  • Deakin/DHHS/DoJAR Strategic Alliance Project Officer.

Core membership

Core members are those who perceive their core business to be directly linked to alliance activities. Core members will cooperate with partners mainly by participating in alliance advisory group activity.

Strategic advisory groups assist alliance coordinators in planning and managing the ongoing business of the alliance. These groups are convened to help the alliance achieve the outcomes identified in its strategic goals. Strategic advisory groups meet as required, and can be established for direction and planning on specific initiatives.

Associate membership

Associate members may be interested in alliance activities and value the networking opportunities. But the activities do not relate to their core business and they may not want to invest time in contributing to the implementation of the alliance business plan.

Associate members can include academic staff from other faculties, human services agencies, businesses, government departments and interested members of the community. They are willing to have their contact details registered, and are typically interested in the community capacity building activities of the alliance, including research.

The Delphi Study

Identifying health research strategies to reduce chronic disease determinants and place-based disadvantage in regional settings: A Delphi study in Australia.

Project background

Directed by Professor John Toumbourou, Chair in Health Psychology at Deakin University, the aim of the Delphi Study was to identify priority health and social problems across the Barwon South West Region of Victoria, as well as develop actions and research to address these priorities.

Using the Delphi survey, a forecasting and innovation consulting technique, the Deakin/DH/DHS Strategic Alliance Research Advisory Group consulted people with health and social planning expertise from across region in 2012/13. The sample invited to participate was identified using available databases of employees working in a range of sectors.

Study reports

Now complete, the Delphi Study produced two reports disseminated to stakeholders associated with the SW Alliance. 

The first report presents the main priorities. The second summarises the recommendations for actions and research to address the issues of obesity and mental health that respondents indicated to be amongst their priority concerns. 

The findings revealed a number of stakeholders across the region recommended the use of evidence-based community-level approaches informed by research and evaluation that are supported by multiple systems.

Download Delphi Report 1

Download Delphi Report 2

Contact us

General enquiries
+61 3 5227 8416

Project Officer, DU/DHHS/DoJAR Strategic Alliance
Chris Loughnan
Email Chris Loughnan 

Chair in Health Psychology, Faculty of Health
Professor John Toumbourou
Email Professor Toumbourou