In 2014, AITHM committed to the ARC Special Research Initiative to establish an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) research unit in Mackay. This was consistent with AITHM’s fundamental intent to undertake research of real health relevance, and particularly recognition of the importance of OHS to the region. The unit has rapidly become operational with new OHS recruits funded by the ARC. As a result AITHM has been well positioned to respond to the independent review into the re-emergence of black lung disease in Queensland, authored by Professor Malcolm Sim from Monash University and presented to the Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Dr Anthony Lynham.
In collaboration with the JCU Research Centre in the Mackay Hospital and Health Service, and as a partner of the newly formed Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre, AITHM aims to ensure researchers and clinicians can address the re-emergence of black lung disease. Outcomes from these collaborations will develop better assessment and diagnostic processes, and better treatments and outcomes for those affected by the disease across Queensland and Australia.
The researchers aim to understand the current shortcomings of assessment processes, provide research aligned with the occupational health and safety remit, develop adequate healthcare guidelines, and improve health care delivery for the community.