Most older Australians will experience hearing, vision, speech, language, or cognitive changes that impact their ability to communicate. Over time, they will need support to express their care needs, choices, and concerns.

Currently, many aged care workers do not have the skills or resources to provide this support, resulting in a cycle where needs, choices, and concerns go unspoken, unheard, and unmet - critical preventative care is not received – and poor health outcomes are perpetuated. We will address these issues through co-design, implementation, and evaluation of "Better Conversations": a fit-for-purpose, interdisciplinary, multi-component intervention to support better conversations about care.

We will use Experience-Based Co-Design to explore enablers and barriers to effective, culturally responsive, and age-appropriate communication about care. We will work in partnership with older people, families, care workers and managers, and subject-matter experts to co-design an intervention that meets the needs of a diverse range of end users.

Following experience testing (usability and acceptability), we will evaluate our intervention in an implementation-effectiveness Cluster Randomised Control Trial. We will evaluate its feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness in improving care worker knowledge; care worker-recipient communication; and care recipient experience of care and loneliness (compared to usual care).

Our research is supported by strong Government, industry, and community partnerships. Through broad and meaningful engagement, we will produce an intervention that can be feasibly and sustainably implemented, at scale, across aged care settings, giving older Australians a voice.

Project members

Chief Investigators

  • Professor Victoria Palmer
  • Professor Deirdre Fetherstonhaugh
  • Professor Joanne Wood
  • Dr Samantha Siyambalapitiya
  • Associate Professor Geoff Argus
  • Dr Aparna Arjunan

Associate Professor Sarah Wallace

NHMRC Principal Research Fellow
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Professor David Copland

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Associate Professor Anthony Angwin

Head of Speech Pathology
A/Prof in Speech Pathology
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Dr Kirstine Shrubsole

NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Professor Nerina Scarinci

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Associate Professor Asaduzzaman Khan

Assoc Professor in Biostatistics
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Post-Doctoral Researchers

  • Ms Amy Coe

Dr Michelle King

Research Fellow
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

PhD Student

Ms Bridget Burton

Senior Project Officer & Casual Academic
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Associate Investigators and Steering Committee representatives

  • Dr Bonnie Ross
  • Ms Kym Torresi
  • Ms Samantha Edmonds
  • Ms Silvia Holl
  • Dr Erin Conway
  • Dr Barbra Timmer
  • Ms Sandra Glaister
  • Ms Michelle Ryan
  • Mr Peter Worboyes
  • Dr Fran Larkey

Partner Universities & Organisations

  • Wesley Mission Queensland 
  • Southern Cross Care Queensland 
  • Older Person’s Advocacy Network
  • Dementia Australia
  • Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland 
  • Speech Pathology Australia
  • Audiology Australia 
  • Southern Queensland Rural Health
  • University of Melbourne
  • La Trobe University
  • Griffith University
  • Queensland University of Technology
  • Metro North Hospital and Health Service

Community and Consumer Involved Organisations

  • Ms Gwenda Darling
  • Ms Kristina Chelberg
  • Ms Lesley Forster
  • Ms Danijela Hliš
  • Ms Jen Muller
  • Ms Jasmine Siggs
  • Mr Jeff Murray
  • Mr Phil Richardson Hallworth


Dr Sarah Wallace

Dr Michelle King