Monash University partners with Collingwood FC to create Australia's leading sports research hub

Jane Hume, Victorian Senator, Josh Frydenberg MP, Federal Treasurer, Professor Marc Parlange, Provost and Senior Vice-President, Monash University and Eddie McGuire, Collingwood President (L to R).

With the rise in popularity of AFLW and women’s soccer and cricket, female participation in sport is booming, but so too is the rate of injuries.

Monash University has paired with Collingwood Football Club to create Victoria Sport, a sports and medical research hub that will have, as a major focus, injuries in female players. Victoria Sport will also drive health and inclusion through sport to all Victorians.

The announcement today by the Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, of a $15 million funding injection has secured the first stage of what will be called Victoria Sport, a $70 million project that will further Melbourne and Australia’s position as a global leader in sports performance, development and research. New facilities at Melbourne and Olympic Parks will provide a home for Victoria Sport and create new and improved facilities for women’s football and netball.

Victoria Sport, to be based at the Melbourne and Olympic Parks, will look at injury prevention, treatment and recovery as well as improving participation and performance from the community to the elite levels. It will also focus on developing programs to increase Victorian’s participation in sport particularly amongst Indigenous communities, people with a disability and new migrants. Monash University is renowned for its research capacity in trauma and brain injury, neuroscience and mental health, injury prevention and rehabilitation, genetics, genomics and medical technology.

“Victoria Sport will be a world-first, multidisciplinary hub for sports medicine research and knowledge sharing. It will enhance performance and the physical and wellbeing of people involved at all levels of sport,” Mr Frydenberg said.

Through Victoria Sport, Monash University and the Collingwood Football Club, will distribute research discoveries and world-leading expertise to create maximum impact in the community. The hub will connect to Monash’s higher education and research expertise, health services, health professionals and clinical networks at major metropolitan Melbourne hospitals and throughout regional Victoria.

Collingwood President Eddie McGuire said being able to offer a service to all athletes – from the elite to the grassroots – and drive research outcomes that may improve the health of all Australians makes Victoria Sport a necessary addition to the nation’s sports landscape.

Monash University is renowned for its research capacity in trauma and brain injury, neuroscience and mental health, injury prevention and rehabilitation, genetics, genomics and medical technology.

‘’Monash University Research at Victoria Sport will define and develop world leading practise in sports injury prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, for male and female athletes, with a focus on player wellbeing and mental health. This funding will create knowledge that will be shared across and benefit our sporting communities,” said Professor Marc Parlange, Provost and Senior Vice-President, Monash University.

“Our club seeks to play a major role of social responsibility and leadership and Victoria Sport will enable us to drive key health and well-being initiatives across all sports and at all levels,” Mr McGuire said.

“The new facilities will underpin our position as a national sporting club and our commitment to women’s sport. We share the Government’s vision to boost women’s participation in sport at all levels. Victoria Sport will also link to our major community partnerships and regional footprint, and to our teams in AFL, AFLW, Netball and Wheelchair AFL.”

A study by the AFL found the incidence of concussion causing missed matches in the first two AFLW seasons was double that compared to the AFL 2017 season.

Georgia Fuller Symons, a PhD student with Associate Professor Sandy Shultz, from the Monash University’s Department of Neuroscience Trauma Group, is studying gender differences in AFL players to concussion on the field. The study looked at over 100 amateur AFL players from men’s and women’s clubs, as well as athletes involved in non-collision sports.

Fuller Symons, with her colleagues, looked at eye tracking post-concussion (as evidence of impaired brain function) as well as DNA changes that have been shown, in animal studies, to be a marker of mild brain injury. According to Shultz/Fuller Symons, the aim is to both provide new more reliable tools for diagnosis and monitoring of brain injury recovery (long and short term) following concussion and to look for any differences in the ways that men and women respond to concussion in play. This would significantly improve medical decisions and the management of concussion in sport.

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