Western Sydney University - GP Synergy

Western Sydney University

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At WSU we are strongly committed to local communities with our research interests informed by the needs and hopes of the communities with which we work. Our current research addresses clinical issues, community/public health concerns, innovations in health professional education, and improvement of health services.

Our overarching research aims are to promote equity, work collaboratively, use innovative evidence based strategies, and to value the people with whom we work. We have growing national and international recognition of our expertise, particularly in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, health care of those in Correctional Services, health services research and clinical trials.

AddressLocked Bag 1797 , Penrith, NSW 2751
Phone02 4221 4111
Head of DepartmentProfessor Jenny Reath
Contact person for academic mattersProfessor Jenny Reath | j.reath@westernsydney.edu.au | 0412 586 135
Dr Penny Abbott | p.abbott@westernsydney.edu.au | 02 4620 3560
Contact person for administrative mattersMs Vicki Bradley | V.Bradley@westernsydney.edu.au | 02 4620 3896

Areas of research interest/activity/expertise


  1. Clinical
  2. Health Services
  3. Community Health (especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse peoples)
  4. Education


  • Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods
  • Participatory Action Research
  • Evaluation approaches especially using Program Logic Models

Current research projects in which there is potential for academic registrar involvement

  • End of life preferences and advance care planning in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities in Western Sydney
  • The impact of social alcohol use on adherence to medication in people with chronic disease
  • The role of GPs in providing health care for people with substance misuse
  • Pathways taken by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students undertaking an undergraduate medical course
  • Exploring the context with Aboriginal people who take their own discharge against medical advice


Teaching opportunities for registrars

At Western Sydney University, we promote an innovative student centred approach to teaching. There are opportunities to contribute to General Practice teaching in:

  • Year 3 community/ GP rotations
  • Year 4 community based research projects
  • Year 5 General Practice rotations
  • PBL and clinical skills teaching in the early years of our 5 year undergraduate course

You will have opportunities to develop and deliver lectures, facilitate small group learning, develop and lead flipped classroom approaches to teaching and supervise students in community engagement activities. Teaching responsibilities are flexible around the needs of our registrar research projects.

Registrars will not only receive research training and supervision, but may also complete the Western Sydney Foundations of University Learning and Teaching Course, and will have opportunities for further coursework to assist with teaching and research. Registrars will be active team players across all of our research and teaching activities and will receive our every support in engaging in their chosen field of research.

Previous registrar research

  • “Assessing the cultural safety of GPs working with Aboriginal patients: what is important and how can the confidence and skills of GP trainers be enhanced?”
  • “Transitions from Justice Health into community care for women of CALD background.”
  • “What are the challenges and opportunities for learning for medical students in General Practices situated in linguistically diverse communities?”
  • “Factors influencing the motivation of medical students to work in urban areas of disadvantage after graduation”
  • “Oral Health in General Practice: reported presentations, practitioner confidence, knowledge, current practice and training needs”
  • “Exploring patient choices to see more than one GP”
  • “Understanding the knowledge and attitudes of Assyrian refugees in relation to cervical screening”


Academic supervisors

Professor Jenny Reath

MBBS, Dip RANZCOG,F RACGP, M Med (by research)

Professor Reath is the Peter Brennan Foundation Chair of the Department of General Practice, Western Sydney University. She also practices as a GP in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health services. Prof Reath has research experience related to General Practice, Indigenous health, also educational interventions and policy frameworks. Prof Reath is CI on an NHMRC funded randomised controlled trial of treatment of acute otitis media in urban Aboriginal children. Professor Reath has developed, led implementation of and evaluated national policy frameworks in Indigenous education for General Practice vocational trainees. Her Masters of Medicine was based on a rapid assessment community diagnosis model of health needs assessment which was the first phase of development of a women’s health program on the Pitjantjatjara Lands of South Australia. Professor Reath has also developed and led a multisite pilot of strategies for improving screening for breast and cervical cancer in Aboriginal women.

Professor Reath presents regularly at national conferences, has authored a number of peer reviewed publications with others currently in press. She is a regular reviewer for Australian and international medical journals. Prof Reath is a member of the international advisory board for a new medical school in Nepal, also on the Boards of the Nepean and Blue Mountains Local Hospital Network and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Faculty. From 2009 until 2017, Professor Reath was a member of the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research  Council Human  Research Ethics Committee.

Dr Penny Abbott


Dr Abbott is a senior lecturer in the Department of General Practice. Her major responsibilities relate to leadership and support of research activities within the department. Her research interests include work related to social justice, health care accessibility, cultural competence, prison health, Aboriginal health and childhood ear disease. She is a CI on the Department’s program of NHMRC funded multi-site clinical trial research into the management of ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. She has particular interest in qualitative research, participatory methods and clinical trial research.

She is a GP who has worked in western Sydney for over 20 years within the Aboriginal community controlled health sector and the prison health sector. She is on the Board of Justice Health & Forensic Mental Health Network, is a member of the RACGP ethics committee, chairs the RACGP special interest group for custodial health medicine, and continues to contribute to a wide range of advisory committees reflecting her diverse clinical and research interests.

Dr Lawrence Tan


Dr Tan is a practising GP in South West Sydney and is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of General Practice, Western Sydney University.  He has experience teaching medical students and GP registrars in Australia as well as in South America. His main role at Western Sydney University relates to teaching and assessment of medical students and support for GP supervisors.  He is on the NSW Cancer Institute’s Primary Care Advisory Committee. His main research interests relate to primary care in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities particularly in the cancer spectrum from prevention and screening to survivorship and palliative care.


Dr David Cosgriff, Academic Registrar (2017)

My time as an academic registrar at Western Sydney University has been most rewarding.  The term provides lots of opportunities to be involved in both research and teaching.  I have benefited from my supervisors’ advice and support through the development of my application, project design and ethics approval.  My direct supervisor is an expert in designing similar projects to mine and her help has been invaluable in getting my project off the ground.   I meet her weekly and she is easily contactable outside these times.

I have been involved in teaching, lecturing and community events.  I think this will greatly improve my clinical teaching in the future.  There has always been a passionate and experienced medical educator to turn to for advice.  The team is adaptable so I have been able to be involved in more or less teaching as the demands of my project have changed.

A term in academia helps to enhance your enjoyment of clinical practice, increase your skill base and demonstrates another facet of practicing as a GP.  I very much recommend this term to other registrars.

Dr Alison Lyon, Academic GP Registrar (2016 and 2017)

The General Practice Department at WSU provides an excellent environment for Academic Registrars. The staff, led by Professor Reath, go to great lengths to ensure each of the team feels valued and supported. There are many opportunities for teaching: small group sessions, lectures, curriculum development and community engagement. My confidence in teaching has grown – a key learning objective for me. The passion for GP research at WSU is demonstrated by the support and encouragement I have received to develop new skills.

I enjoyed my Academic post at Western Sydney University in 2016 so much I decided to stay for a second year! I had a great experience last year and was able to develop my research and teaching skills in a supportive environment. The passion for research within the GP department is demonstrated by the NHMRC grants they have been awarded and the wide range of research projects currently underway including AOM in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, Justice Health, cancer in CALD communities and my own project in refugee women’s health. My second-year post has given me the skills and confidence to create a research project which involves collaboration with the Translational Health Research Institute and the NSW Refugee Health Service. There are many opportunities for teaching and Registrars are encouraged to develop their areas of interest with small group sessions, lectures, curriculum development and community engagement activities. I highly recommend this post to prospective registrars.

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