Mental Health and Community Wellbeing

Research Area Leader

Andrew McGrath

Associate Professor Andrew McGrath

Co-Research Area Leader

Dr Rachael Fox

Dr Rachael Fox

This research group investigates mental health and community well-being in rural and regional areas. Current research conducted by this group has a broad focus on services that can promote the functioning and mental health of people in their communities. Specific research project are evaluating team care for people suffering from severe mental illness in rural areas, the interrelation between physical and mental health, effective response to natural disasters in rural areas available, as well as a number of projects that look at conceptualisation and measurement of various psychological conditions and their treatment. A further area of research conducted by this group is the focus on mental health and community wellbeing of children and students in rural areas.  This includes ethical practice at all levels of education, including effective pastoral care.

A specific strength of the research conducted by this group is the focus on the psychological health and wellbeing of rural communities. By rural communities we mean inner and outer regional areas, and inner and outer remote areas of Australia, including regional centres, small towns, villages, and farming areas. People living in regional and remote areas face increasing challenges, including drought and climate change, and Charles Sturt, as a large regional University, is ideally situated to investigate and respond to these developing and serious challenges.

Funding for this research has been provided by the Australian Research Council, Criminology Research Council, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network.

Research on mental health and wellbeing issues in a work context is covered by the Workforce Wellness Research Unit.

Philip Birch A/Prof Philip Birch Centre for Law & Justice Port Macquarie
Dr. Rylee Dionigi Prof Rylee Dionigi School of Allied Health, Exercise and Sports Science Port Macquarie
Dr Keith Harris Dr Keith Harris School of Psychology Port Macquarie
Andrew McGrath A/Prof Andrew McGrath School of Psychology Bathurst
  Dr Ruth Delaforce Centre for Law & Justice Bathurst
Dr Mir Rabiul Islam Dr Mir Rabiul Islam School of Psychology Bathurst
Dr Rachael Fox Dr Rachael Fox School of Psychology Wagga
Gene Hodgins A/Prof Gene Hodgins School of Psychology Wagga
Sarah Hyde Dr Sarah Hyde School of Rural Medicine Orange
Caroline Robertson 2018 profile photo Caroline Roberston,
Research Fellow
Three Rivers Orange
Ms Rachael Buchanan Dr Rachael Jefferson-Buchanan School of Education Albury
Herbert Jelinek A/Prof Herbert Jelinek School of Allied Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences Albury
Dr Amber McKinley A/Prof Amber McKinley Australian Graduate School of Policing & Security Canberra
Dr Holly Randell-Moon Dr Holly Randell-Moon School of Indigenous Australian Studies Dubbo

Current Projects

Project Name Brief Description Funding BodyInvestigators
Workforce Wellbeing in Family and Community Services 2018-2019   Family and Community Services Prof Russell Roberts, A/Prof Larissa Bamberry, Dr Arnela Ceric,  A/Prof Gene Hodgins, Dr Tamara Cumming, A/Prof Rachel Rossiter

Past Projects

Project Name Brief Description Funding BodyInvestigators
Assets for older adults: Creation of an inventory to measure psychosocial outcomes of sport participation 2013-2015 This study applies conceptual frameworks from developmental psychology (that are being used to understand youths’ positive development through sport) to the context of sport as an avenue for positive psychosocial development in older people. Insight Development Grant, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Cat. 3A) Prof Rylee Dionigi
NewAccess Program Evaluation. 2017-2018 Mixed methods project to evaluate a light CBT programme running through headspace which is being run for the first time with 12-17 year olds. Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network. (MPHN) Prof Oliver Burmeister, Prof Russell Roberts, Dr Rachael Fox and Dr Brona Nic Giolla Easpaig
Team care for people experiencing severe mental illness – Program Evaluation 2017-2018   Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network (MPHN) Prof Russell Roberts, A/Prof Rachel Rossiter, Prof Oliver Burmeister,  A/Prof Gene Hodgins
Student Topic/Area Research Supervisor
Miss Catherine Strods Studies in Human Society Dr Mir Islam
Miss Leighann Spencer Criminology Dr Ruth Delaforce
Miss Louise Sicard Examining the role of music therapy as a component for treatment: What works for high risk offenders with complex needs. Dr Philip Birch
Miss Sheree Moore Educational Psychology Dr Rachael Fox
Miss Yin Hourigan Australian Children, Adolescents and Parents' Understanding of Mental Illness and Psychological Interventions Dr Andrew McGrath
Mr Andrew Williams Causes and Prevention of Crime Dr Mir Islam Dr Philip Birch
Mr Bradley Wright Police Administration, Procedures and Practice Dr Amber McKinley
Mr Brett Biles An Exploration of a Tailored Cardiovascular Exercise and Education Program for Indigenous Australian Men in a Regional Centre A/Prof Herbert Jelinek
Mr Grant Brechney Effects of Weight Cutting and Weight Recovery on Exercise Performance, Neuromuscular Fatigue and Cognitive Function and the Influence of a Rehydration Treatment in Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Prof Rylee Dionigi
Mr John David Moy Policy and Administration Dr Mir Islam
Mr Michael Lollback Policy and Administration Dr Philip Birch
Mr Mitchell Kunnen Psychological readiness to return to sport after ACL reconstruction in elite and sub-elite rugby league and Australian rules football players Prof Rylee Dionigi
Mr Nathan Beehag Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology Dr Andrew McGrath
Mrs Charrissa Chew-Moriarty Police Administration, Procedures and Practice Dr Philip Birch
Mrs Christina Farrell Psychology Dr Rachael Fox
Mrs Rachael Haynes When daydreams become harmful: Emerging themes from an Australian Maladaptive Daydream Population A/Prof Gene Hodgins
Mrs Ruth Crawford Public Nutrition Intervention A/Prof Herbert Jelinek
Mrs Santhi Chigurupati Motor evoked potential (MEP) from vocal cords to minimise voice loss during Anterior cervical decompression and fusion A/Prof Herbert Jelinek
Ms Ann-Maree Fardell Hartley The use of social media to communicate suicidality by young people and the implications in rural and remote New South Wales. A/Prof Herbert Jelinek
Ms Caroline Hare Forensic Psychology Dr Andrew McGrath
Ms Genevieve d'Ament Sensory Processes, Perception and Performance Dr Rachael Fox
Ms Ineke Romeyn Examining Multiple Victimisation: Re-theorising Child Abuse Dr Philip Birch
MS Jen Schwarz Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology A/Prof Gene Hodgins
Ms Katrina Andrews Social and Community Psychology A/Prof Gene Hodgins Dr Rachael Fox
Ms Michelle Grigg Rehabilitation and Therapy (excl. Physiotherapy) Prof Rylee Dionigi
Ms Tammy Orreal Moral dumbfounding: Does intuition find no reason? Dr Andrew McGrath
Ms Yvette Eriksen Ecological evaluation, acceptability and effectiveness of the standard Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) protocol for posttraumatic symptoms with an Aboriginal Australian community: A collaborative mixed methods enquiry. A/Prof Gene Hodgins Dr Rachael Fox


  • McKinley, A. (2020). Serial Homicide in Australia, 1900-2015. Australian Institute of Criminology.


  • Birch, P., Vickers, M. H., Galovic, S., & Kennedy, M. (2019). Cultivating wellbeing amongst police officers: Examining challenges in the workplace . In D. Peterson, D. K. Das, & M. De Guzman (Eds.), Urban Security: Challenges for 21st Century Global Cities and policing (Edit International Police Executive Symposium). CRC Press.
  • Kariotis, T. C., & Harris, K. M. (Accepted/In press). Clinician perceptions of My Health Record in mental health care: Medication management and sharing mental health information. Australian Journal of Primary Health.
  • Hyndman, B., Suesee, B., McMaster, N., Harvey, S., Jefferson-Buchanan, R., Cruickshank, V., ... Pill, S. (Accepted/In press). Physical Education across the international media: A five-year analysis. Sport, Education and Society.
  • Jefferson-Buchanan, R. (2019). Creative, play-based practice. Early Years Childcarer, 12, 40-41.


  • Dionigi, R. A., & Gard, M. (Eds.) (2018). Sport and physical activity across the lifespan: critical perspectives. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Ingham, V., Islam, M., & Hicks, J. (2018). Adaptive flood mobilities in Bangladesh. Mobilities, 1-15.
  • Whitsed, R., Horta, A., & Jelinek, H. F. (2018). Assessing representativeness of a rural Australian clinical database using a spatial modelling approach. In H. Eskola , O. Väisänen, J. Viik, & J. Hyttinen (Eds.), EMBEC and NBC 2017 Conference Proceedings (Vol. 65, pp. 932-935). Springer-Verlag London Ltd..
  • Jelinek, H., Spence, I., Cornforth, D., Tarvainen, M. P., & Russell, J. (2018). Depression and cardiac dysautonomia in eating disorders. Eating and Weight Disorders, 23(3), 369-374.
  • Lianos, H., & McGrath, A. (2018). Can the General Theory of Crime and General Strain Theory Explain Cyberbullying Perpetration? Crime and Delinquency, 64(5), 674-700.
  • McDonald, J., & Fox, R. (2018). Trauma amongst TV news crews: An exploration of role differences and crew solidarity. In M. Leung, & L. Tan (Eds.), Applied Psychology Readings- Selected Papers from Singapore Conference on Applied Psychology, 2017 Singapore: Springer International Publishing.
  • Jefferson-Buchanan, R. (2018). The science of movement. Early Years Childcarer, (10), 40-41.
  • Jefferson-Buchanan, R. (2018). Play is the way. Education Matters Primary, October, 50-51.
  • Jefferson-Buchanan, R. (2018). Individualising play-based skill learning. Early Years Childcarer, 11, 40-41.
  • Jefferson-Buchanan, R. (2018). Discourses of healthism and self-regulation. Education Matters Secondary, 52.
  • Colvin, E., McFarlane, K., Gerard, A., & McGrath, A. (2018). ‘We Don’t do Measure and Quotes’: How Agency Responses Criminalise and  endanger the Safety of Children Missing in Care in New South Wales, Australia. The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice, 57(2), 231-249.
  • Gerard, A., McGrath, A., Colvin, E., & McFarlane, K. (2018). ‘I’m not getting out of bed!’ The criminalisation of young people in residential care. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 1-18.
  • McFarlane, K., Colvin, E., McGrath, A., & Gerard, A. (2018). ‘Just another policy document?’ Can a protocol end the criminalisation of kids in care? Alternative Law Journal, 1-6.
  • McKinley, A. (2018). Criminal Investigation Failure. Salus Journal, 6(1), 82-84.
  • McKinley, A. (2018). Changes in Sexual Offence Reporting Post Cultural Reform.
  • McKinley, A. (2018). The Impact of Cultural Reform on Reporting Acts of Sexual Violence Internationally.
  • Tulloch, R., & Randell-Moon, H. E. K. (2018). The politics of gamification: Education, neoliberalism and the knowledge economy. Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 40(3), 204-226.
  • Mehmet, M., Roberts, R., Nayeem, T., Hyde, S., & Burmeister, O. (2018). Equally Well: A Consumer-Centric Implementation Model. In R. Hay (Ed.), International Social Marketing Conference 2018: Broadening Cultural Horizons in Social Marketing (pp. 66-71). Australia: James Cook University.
  • Islam, M., Ingham, V., Hicks, J., & Kelley, E. (2018). From coping to adaptation: Flooding and the role of local knowledge in Bangladesh. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 28, 531-538.
  • McGrath, A., Thompson, A. P., & Goodman-Delahunty, J. (2018). Differentiating predictive validity and practical utility for the Australian Adaptation of the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 45(6), 820-839.
  • Randell-Moon, H. E. K. (2018). The Gigatown Competition in New Zealand: competition as digital infrastructure allocation? Media International Australia, 168(1), 48-61.


  • Birch, P., Vickers, M. H., Kennedy, M., & Galovic, S. (2017). Wellbeing, Occupational Justice and Policing Practice: An ‘affirming environment’. Police Practice and Research: an international journal, 18(1), 26-36.
  • Dionigi, R. (2017). Leisure and recreation in the lives of older people. In M. Bernoth, & D. Winkler (Eds.), Healthy ageing and aged care (1 ed., pp. 204-220). Australia and New Zealand: Oxford University Press.
  • Randall, D., Thomas, M., Whiting, D., & McGrath, A. (2017). Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS-21): Factor structure in traumatic brain injury rehabilitation. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 1-11.
  • McKinley, A. (2017). Homicide in Australia. In W. Petherick, & G. Sinnamon (Eds.), The Psychology of Criminal and Antisocial Behavior: Victim and Offender Perspectives (1 ed., pp. 385-418). United States: Elsevier.
  • Son, J., & Dionigi, R. A. (Accepted/In press). Part two: Introduction to critical perspectives on physical activity, sport, play, and leisure in later life. Annals of leisure research, 20(3), 251-252.
  • Nic Giolla Easpaig, B., & Fox, R. (2017). Young people's experiences of negotiating health care services in relation to sexual and gender identities: A community-based approach to service improvement. Psychology of Sexualities Review, 8(1 Summer), 39-52.
  • MacDonald, J., Hodgins, G., & Saliba, A. (2017). Trauma exposure in journalists: A systematic literature review. Fusion Journal, 11, 1-17.
  • Khandoker, A. H., Luthra, V., Abouallaban, Y., Saha, S., Ahmed, K. I., Mostafa, R., ... Jelinek, H. F. (2017). Predicting depressed patients with suicidal ideation from ECG recordings. Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing, 55(5), 793-805.
  • Khandoker, A. H., Luthra, V., Abouallaban, Y., Saha, S., Ahmed, K. I. U., Mostafa, R., ... Jelinek, H. F. (2017). Suicidal ideation is associated with altered variability of fingertip photo-plethysmogram signal in depressed patients. Frontiers in Physiology, 8(JUL), 1-17. [501].
  • Ireland, J. L., Birch, P., Kolstee, J., & Ritchie, A. (2017). Partner abuse and its association with emotional distress: A study exploring LGBTI relationships. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 54(2017), 107-117. [54].


  • Craven, R., Atkins, P. W., Kennedy, M., Birch, P., York, C., & Gallagher, P. (2016). From strength to strength: Furthering NSW Police Wellbeing. Institute of Positive Psychology, ACU.
  • Dionigi, R. (2016). The Competitive Older Athlete: A Review of Psychosocial and Sociological Issues. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, 32(1), 55-62.
  • Dionigi, R. A. (2016). Resistance training in later life: Self-efficacy, physical self-worth and sense of community. In Z. T. F. Fields (Ed.), Resistance training: Principles, adaptations and health effects (1 ed., pp. 77-88). New York: Nova Science Publishers.
  • MacDonald, J., Saliba, A., & Hodgins, G. (2016). Journalists and substance use: A systematic literature review. Substance Abuse, 37(3), 402–411.
  • Parissi, C., Hyde, S., & Southwell, P. (2016). Report on developing a pathway for indigenous students in a tertiary science degree in rural Australia: A work in progress. International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, 24(4), 31-43.
  • Skinner, K., Hyde, S., McPherson, K., Crockett, J., O'Connor, S., & Breheny, L. (2016). Exploring the development of reflective thinking in an undergraduate problem based learning healthcare course. 176-176. Poster session presented at 17th Ottawa Conference on the Assessment of Competence in Medicine and the Healthcare Professions, Perth , Australia.
  • Islam, M., Ingham, V., & Hicks, J. (2016). Flooding in Bangladesh:  An In-Depth Analysis of Community Disaster Resilience Applying the 'Production Model'. The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, 11(4), 59-74.
  • Islam, M. R., Ingham, V., Hicks, J., Manock, I., Sappey, R., & Dilara, S. (2016). 'Production Model' of community disaster resilience and psycho-social recovery: Application to flooding in rural Bangladesh from economics perspective. Abstract from The Gobeshona Conference for Research on Climate Change in Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  • Jefferson-Buchanan, R. (2016). Exploring the gender-constructed body across time in UK physical education through a feminist framework. In International Society for Engineers and Researchers 43rd International Conference (ISER 2016) (pp. 19-26). Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia : International Society for Engineers and Researchers.
  • Khandoker, A. H., Luthra, V., Abouallaban, Y., Saha, S., Ahmed, K. I., Mostafa, R., ... Jelinek, H. F. (2016). Identifying depressed patients with and without suicidal ideation by finger photo-plethysmography. In 38th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, EMBC 2016 (Vol. 2016-October, pp. 1842-1845). [7591078] United States: IEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
  • Jelinek, H., Tarvainen, M. P., Spence, I., & Russell, J. (2016). A 6-weeks treatment program improves HRV in eating disorder patients. Journal of Medical Diagnostic Methods, 5(2), 1-5.
  • Thomas, M., McGrath, A., & Skilbeck, C. (2016). Do Missing Domain Scores Compromise the Validity of the Quality of Life Inventory? Brain Impairment, 17(3), 209-221.
  • McKinley, A., MacCulloch, R., & Lark, M. (2016). Temporal Aspects of Child Homicide in Australia. Salus Journal, 4(3), 1-14.
  • McKinley, A., MacCulloch, R., & Lynch, A. (2016). Multi-agency, Trauma-Informed Victim Care for Victims of Sexual Offences within the Australian Defence Force. Australian Defence Force.
  • McKinley, A. (2016). Service Police Investigations of Sexual Offences: Modelling Best Practice. Australian Defence Force.
  • McKinley, A., Ritchie, D., & Burmeister, O. (2016). A Post Publication Review of "Tragedy: Facebook, Aboriginal Peoples and Suicide. Australian Journal of Information Systems, 20, 1-5.


  • Birch, P., Ireland, J. L., Strickland, C., & Kolstee, J. (2015). Examining Problematic Gambling and Mental Health in LGBTI Communities: A Preliminary Study. Medical Research Archives, 3, 1-8.
  • Birch, P., Ireland, J. L., Strickland, C., & Kolstee, J. (2015). Examining Gambling and Mental Health in a LGBTI community: Executive summary of findings from a preliminary NSW Study. Sydney: ACON.
  • Horton, S., MacDonald, D. J., Erickson, K., & Dionigi, R. (2015). A qualitative investigation of exercising with MS and the impact on the spousal relationship. European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 12(1), 223-230.
  • Akhter, R., Bernoth, M., Burmeister, O., Chia, E. V., Dionigi, R., Dresser, G., ... Robergs, R. (2015). Social and community links: Drivers of healthy and active ageing. In Rethinking the Region & Regionalism in Australasia: Challenges & Opportunities for the 21st Century (pp. 1-7). East Sussex, United Kingdom: Regional Studies Association.
  • Fryer, D., & Fox, R. (2015). Community psychology: Subjectivity, power, collectivity. In I. Parker (Ed.), Handbook of critical psychology (1st ed., pp. 145-154). United Kingdom: Routledge.
  • Ingham, V., Islam, M., Manock, I., Hicks, J., & Sappey, R. (2015). Evidence of Adaptation to Flooding from Three Regions in Bangladesh: A Multidisciplinary Study. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, 9(3-4), 11-23.
  • Page, S., & Islam, M. (2015). The role of personality variables in predicting attitudes toward people with intellectual disability: An Australian perspective. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 59(8), 741-745.
  • Silva, D. D., Burstein, F., Jelinek, H., & Stranieri, A. (2015). Addressing the Complexities of Big Data Analytics in Healthcare: The Diabetes Screening Case. Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 19, 99-115.
  • Khandoker, A. H., Luthra, Y., Abouallaban, Y., Saha, S., Ahmed, R., Mostafa, R., ... Jelinek, H. (2015). Reduced Variability in Pulse Wave Velocity in Depressed Patients with Suicidal Ideation. In A. Murray (Ed.), Computing in Cardiology 2015: Volume 42 (Vol. 42, pp. 1061-1064). United States: IEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
  • Liddle, M-J., Bradley, B., & McGrath, A. (2015). Baby empathy: Infant distress and peer prosocial behaviour. Infant Mental Health Journal, 36(4), 446-458.
  • McGrath, A. (2015). Exploring patterns of offending by juvenile offenders in Australia: What is the evidence for a specialist violent offender? Journal of Developmental and Life Course Criminology, 1(3), 304-324.
  • McKinley, A. (2015). Homicide Solvability and Applied Victimology in New South Wales, 1994-2013.