Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Dannielle Post

Main Campus
City East

Applications Close
29 Jan 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate

Tuition Fees:
All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$29,863 p.a. available to domestic applicants only

About this project

Develop social and community strategies to combat chronic health

If you are seeking to advance your career in allied health and interested in tackling chronic disease in the community, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a hands-on project-based PhD with real-world impact in our Alliance for Research Exercise Nutrition and Activity (ARENA) Research Centre, in partnership with the City of Charles Sturt.

Chronic disease accounts for the greatest burden of disease in Australia. Manageable risk factors have been identified, including tobacco use, obesity, dietary risks, high blood pressure, and high blood glucose. These are modifiable but require complex behaviour and lifestyle changes that are difficult to enact and maintain. 

With good management, more people are surviving their illnesses; however, their quality of life is reduced. The social determinants of health are a major factor in developing and managing chronic conditions. We need interventions that support positive behaviour change related to chronic disease management and consider the social determinants of health. This is where strategies such as social prescription, intended to build capacity and community engagement and support health equity, are useful.

This PhD project aims to support the physical and psychological wellbeing of community members living with chronic disease through social prescription, incorporating physical activity and social engagement. It will help us to understand the impact of social prescription at the individual and community levels. 

You will be embedded in an exciting and inspiring research environment, working with colleagues in the Allied Health and Human Performance Academic Unit and Alliance for Research Exercise Nutrition and Activity (ARENA) Research Centre. Each of these areas provide vibrant and collaborative work environments that seek to develop skilled, collegiate researchers. 

The project requires you to engage with the Healthy Choices Program delivery team, participants, and the community in general, giving you valuable opportunities to start building strong networking and collaboration skills. The Healthy Choices Program is a unique collaboration between UniSA, City of Charles Sturt, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and the North­West Adelaide Health Study. It provides an innovative and inclusive community based service for the health and wellbeing of people living with chronic conditions within the City of Charles Sturt.

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will first examine the current literature around social prescription, physical activity, and physical and psychological health and wellbeing outcomes for community-dwelling adults. Next, in collaboration with stakeholders and the supervisory team, you will develop and deliver group-based physical activity programs designed to support physical and psychological health and wellbeing, and social engagement. These programs will be delivered at City of Charles Sturt community facilities.

Quantitative analysis will include objective measures of physical and psychological health and wellbeing. As a means of contextualising the quantitative data, you will use qualitative investigation and analysis to explore the perspectives and experiences of program participants about the impact of social prescription on their physical and psychological health and wellbeing.

Throughout the project, you will engage with stakeholders, including industry partners and community members, and co-design program development and community health and wellbeing outcomes. Upon completion, you will be highly versed in searching for, screening, critically appraising, and collating relevant literature; academic writing and presentation; and both qualitative and quantitative research methods. 

There will be opportunities for you to present your research at local (Allied Health and Human Performance Research Week), national, and international physical activity and public health conferences, travel permitted. We will also encourage and support you to access research skill development opportunities, including seminars, workshops and short courses.

Where you’ll be based

You’ll be based in the ARENA research centre. ARENA investigates the role of exercise, nutrition and other lifestyle activities in improving clinical and health outcomes. Physical, psychological and sports performance in populations is studied across a wide cross-section of society, ranging from children to elite athletes and people with chronic disease.

Our research focus ‘Healthy lives through healthy living’ centres around the grand challenge of tackling the growing epidemic of chronic diseases. We focus on real-world issues and bring bold ideas to create solutions which optimise health, function and wellbeing.

Our mission is to be the leading Australian voice on a global stage by championing research in exercise, nutrition, preventative health and other lifestyle behaviours across the lifespan. In fact, we are well on the way to achieving this – currently ranked in the World Top 50 for Sport Science.*

We work with diverse research partners, end-users and our communities to identify and evaluate solutions, and translate these outcomes into products and changes in policy and practice.

*Ranked #35, 2021Shanghai Global Ranking of Sport Science Schools and Departments.

Supervisory Team

Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $29,863 per annum is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $46,653 per annum (2023 rates). A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.

Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to applications from Australian or New Zealand citizens, and Australian permanent residents or permanent humanitarian visa holders. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. Additionally, applicants must meet the projects selection criteria: 
  • Hold an appropriate undergraduate or postgraduate qualification in Clinical Exercise Physiology (desirable) or Human Movement, Exercise & Sport Science or a similar field
All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our City East campus in the heart of Adelaide.

Essential Dates

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer. Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close Sunday 29 January 2023.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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