Rural Research Capacity Building Program

The Rural Research Capacity Building Program aims to increase the number of rural and remote health workers with knowledge and skills in evaluation and research methods. It also aims to contribute to the literature on both innovation and evidence-based practice around rural and remote health care.

HETI has recently redesigned the program after significant review and consultation. The program's foundation has been strengthened with a formal curriculum and a competency-based framework covering major aspects of the research process. The relaunched program welcomed its first intake in 2015, with candidates from across rural and remote supported to undertake a formal research project over a twenty-two month period.

Program description

Staff from all rural Local Health Districts in NSW, along with rurally based staff from Ambulance NSW, Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health and NSW Health Pillars are eligible to apply to the program. Individuals are awarded a place in the program based on their readiness to undertake a research project, the relevance of the research to advancing rural health and support from their health service.

As part of the formal curriculum, candidates learn about key aspects of the research and evaluation process. Key learning areas include:

  • Understanding the context of research
  • Designing research
  • Conducting research
  • Communicating research

Candidates use their own projects as the basis of an experiential learning approach, with further depth on aspects of quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods research explored in formal workshop-based teaching.

Funding is also provided to Local Health Districts to support candidates.

Two Rural Research Program Officers are employed to coordinate the overall program, facilitate capacity building strategies and provide technical advice to candidates. The Program Officers have a key role in ongoing teaching, delivering weekly webconferences and teleconferences to ensure learning is topical, timely and relevant.

In addition to supervision from Program Officers candidates build a support team around the project which includes an academic mentor, a project sponsor within their organisation and a translation expert who can assist with translating the findings of the study into policy or practice.

Key partners

There are many organisations and individuals working together to support the Rural Research Capacity Building Program by providing tutoring, mentoring, training or advocacy.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Engagement and executive and managerial level throughout rural LHDs, Ambulance NSW, Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health
  • NSW Health Pillars
  • The Office of Health and Medical Research
  • Australian Rural Health Research Collaboration
  • The University of Sydney School of Rural Health and Sydney Medical School

The program also draws on teaching expertise from a range of educational institutions across the state, with a range of rurally-based academics from the University of Sydney providing expert teaching across the workshop components of the program.


The Rural Research Capacity Building Program was formally reviewed in May 2014 by Dr Tim Smythe. The review can be found here. The review recommenced a number of options to strengthen the program and led to an extensive consultation and redesign process.

Information for all intakes is routinely collected on aspects of the program such as financial investment, attendance at face-to-face workshops or teleconferences and progress to timelines for candidates.

Self-assessed competence on selected research skills is captured using the 'Research Spider'. This is collected in terms of inputs, outputs and outcomes and is based on a program logic model. Information is added to this continually to keep it up to date.

Current evaluation using program logic model (PDF 69KB)

Interested in applying?

Am I eligible? (PDF 657KB)

Contact Details

David Schmidt

Rural Research Program Officer

02 6492 9104


Kerith Duncanson

Rural Research Program Officer

0428 848 264


See completed projects.

 2018 Rural Research Capacity Building Program


Applications are now open for the 2018 Rural Research Capacity Building Program. Applicants are encouraged to discuss their ideas with program managers prior to submission.


Applications Close:

31 October 2017

A teleconference for potential candidates will be conducted on Thursday 21 September 2017 between 11am and 12pm to assist interested individuals with completing an application. Dial in details are phone 1800 896 323 and when asked use member pin 81512597#.

Information and Application Guidelines

FAQ for Candidates

FAQ for Managers