CMRF Emerging Researcher Fellowship Launched

Research that aims to improve the lives of people living with the experience of disability is now one step closer to creating real, much-needed change right here in Christchurch.  

The Canterbury Medical Research Foundation (CMRF) recently announced the recipient of their inaugural Emerging Researcher Fellowship, Dr Johnny Bourke from The Burwood Academy.

It is without a doubt a monumental opportunity for Dr Bourke and his team, as he explains. 

“It is an incredible privilege to receive the CRMF Emerging Researcher Fellowship and a really exciting opportunity to conduct research that I believe will make a meaningful change to people’s lives.

“Many of the one in five people in Canterbury who report living with disability, require support workers to live their lives every day. 

“As a person who lives with high-level paralysis, I’ll often ask people to imagine having a person in your life almost all day and having to ask them to complete almost every task you wish to do.

“Without good quality disability support workers, disabled people can’t live all aspects of their lives, from getting dressed to getting about the community and everything in between.

“However, the disability support workforce sector is under increasing pressure. Disability support workers are undervalued and finding good quality support workers is becoming harder and the number of people requiring them is increasing.”

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Dr Bourke’s research aims to understand what makes a good relationship between disabled people and support workers. 

It will also encompass wider groups including whanau and service providers. 

“Having a clear understanding of what works for who can help us to ensure everybody feels valued and supported – from the working conditions for support workers to the quality of life for disabled people. Ultimately, by understanding what works for everybody, we hope to help build a more resilient and positive support worker sector,” Dr Bourke explains. 

This unique research aligns with CMRF on many levels, and so it is an exciting time for both Burwood Academy and the CMRF team. Foundation Director Melissa Haberfield says, “We are incredibly proud to be able to support a talented local researcher like Dr Bourke, whose work will undoubtedly have a significant impact on people living with the experience of disability every day. 

As a charitable organisation that receives no government funding this is only possible thanks to the generosity of our donors who share our vision of improving the health and well-being of our people through investment in health research.”

The grant, worth up to $200,000 will be awarded annually to an exceptional Canterbury researcher, who is committed to improving the health and well-being not only of New Zealanders but people all around the world. 

If you would like to make a donation to support the work of Dr Bourke and his team click here

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