Verily Connect: An Australian Government Initiative

Verily Connect is a project to trial some innovative solutions for increasing support for rural carers of people living with dementia and/or memory problems. We use online technologies to connect carers to each other and to create virtual dementia friendly rural communities – that is, an online dementia-friendly community.  

Verily Connect consists of three main strategies:

  1. Real-world Technology Learning Centres manned by trained volunteers who can assist carers and community members to learn to use Verily Connect technologies  
  2. The Verily Connect website and mobile application that provides information for carers and helps them connect with each other
  3. Peer support groups for carers that meet via video-conference

A total of 12 rural communities across Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales are participating in the project. The project runs from July 2017 – December 2019.

La Trobe University is leading the project in collaboration with Swinburne University, Flinders University, University of Newcastle, and University of Saskatchewan (Canada). The project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health under the Dementia and Aged Care Services (DACS) funding round.

The ethical aspects of this study have been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of Melbourne Health. This project will be carried out according to the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007). This statement has been developed to protect the interests of people who agree to participate in human research studies.

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The Investigator team

Professor Irene Blackberry

Professor Irene Blackberry is Director and John Richards Chair of Rural Ageing and Aged Care Research at La Trobe University, Wodonga. The Centre is the only interdisciplinary rural ageing research centre in Australia.  She has a medical background and is an expert in pragmatic trials of complex multifactorial health services. Her passion is to improve access to care for older people. She is the Principal Investigator of the VERILY Connect project.

Professor Jane Farmer

Jane Farmer is Director of the Swinburne University Social Innovation Research Institute, which focuses on the nexus of new technology, design thinking, data analytics and social and health sciences. The Institute is highly applied and largely tackles health and social challenges identified by industry partners drawing on data science and information technologies. The Institute also studies the impact of emerging technologies on society. Jane has a background in community co-design, social enterprise and co-production research in rural health and community services.

Professor Jennene Greenhill

Professor Jennene Greenhill is the Director of the Flinders University Rural Health South Australia (RHSA). She was appointed Chairperson Federation of Rural Australian Medical Educators (FRAME) in 2017, working to shape national policy in rural medical education to ensure students receive high quality education and community engagement. She has an international research profile in clinical education and health services. She is an active researcher leader with several major projects in rural aged care and transformative clinical education.

Professor David Perkins

Professor David Perkins is the Director and Professor of Rural Health Research at the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, University of Newcastle. He has extensive research experience in Mental Health Services, Rural Suicide Prevention, Public Health, Rural Health and Primary Health Care.  Professor Perkins is a Co-Director of the International Foundation for Integrated Care Australia and a Board member of the International Foundation for Integrated Care. Professor Perkins is on the Editorial Board for the International Journal of Integrated Care and was the Editor in Chief of the Australian Journal of Rural Health from 2011 to 2016.

Professor Debra Morgan

Debra Morgan, PhD, RN, is Professor and College of Medicine Chair in Rural Health Delivery at the Canadian Centre for Health & Safety in Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan, Canada. She is the Director of the Rural and Remote Memory Clinic founded in 2004 as a research demonstration project and now government funded. Dr. Morgan is lead of the interdisciplinary Rural Dementia Action Research program (RaDAR), supported by provincial and federal health research funding. RaDAR focuses on rural and remote dementia care, early assessment and diagnosis, and rural primary health care for dementia. She is a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

Associate Professor Megan O'Connell

Megan O’Connell is an Associate Professor of Psychology in the Graduate Program in Clinical Psychology at the University of Saskatchewan. She practices clinically at the interdisciplinary Rural and Remote Memory Clinic. She is Principal Investigator of the Video Therapy Analysis Lab (ViTAL) funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI). As part of a team in the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, she leads a project on use of technology for remote specialist support for rural primary care providers in diagnosis and management of dementia.

Dr Margaret Winbolt

  • Address: Australian Institute for Primary Care & Ageing
  • College of Science, Health and Engineering
  • La Trobe University
  • Victoria 3086
  • Telephone: 03 9479 5983
  • Email:
  • Websites:;
  • Profile:

Margaret is a Senior Research Fellow with the Australian Centre for Evidence-Based Aged Care at La Trobe University and a Director with the Dementia Training Australia consortium. Margaret is a Registered Nurse with extensive experience in the care of people living with dementia. Her role with Dementia Training Australia involves the development and delivery of dementia education programs for health professionals and aged care workers in aged and health care settings.

Dr Michael Bauer

Michael is passionate about enhancing the lives of older people and his research is aimed at building the capacity of aged care services to improve service delivery. He has been instrumental in the development of a range of evidence based resources for health professionals, carers and service providers.

Catherine Morley

  • Address: Wimmera Health Care Group
  • 83 Baillie Street, Horsham, Victoria 3400
  • Telephone: (03) 5381 9293
  • Email:

Catherine Morley is an award-winning CEO who has recently taken charge of Wimmera Health Care Group. In 2017 she was recognised as one of the Top 50 Public Sector Women in Victoria for her leadership at Rural Northwest Health. Catherine is a community focused leader with a genuine interest in the health and welfare of rural communities. She has collaborated on research programs across community engagement, obesity prevention, and an innovative model of care for community members living with dementia, and was involved in the inaugural rural Communiversity.

Dr Clare Wilding

Dr Clare Wilding is an experienced occupational therapist, researcher, and academic. Currently, Clare is a Research Fellow with the John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research at La Trobe University, Wodonga. She specialises in researching about older people and technology. Previously, Clare has worked as a practitioner in mental health settings, as a senior lecturer in occupational therapy, and as a courses director. She is Project Manager for the VERILY Connect project.

The Research Officer team

Dr Hilary Davis

  • Senior Research Fellow
  • Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne University of Technology
    Adjunct, Living with Disability Research Centre, La Trobe University
  • Telephone: (03) 9479 1065
  • Email:

Dr Mohammed Hamiduzzaman

Dr Kristina Gottschall

Dr Ella Zaplin

  • John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research
  • La Trobe Rural Health School
  • La Trobe University
  • PO Box 821 Wodonga VIC 3689 Australia        
  • Telephone: 02 6024 9713
  • Email:
  • Website:
  • Twitter: @EZaplin

Dr Tshepo Rasekaba

  • John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research
  • La Trobe Rural Health School
    La Trobe University
  • PO Box 821 Wodonga VIC 3689 Australia             
  • Telephone: (02) 6024 9718
  • Email:
  • Website:

Kayla Royals

The Health Service partners

Cobaw Community Health

  • Telephone: 1300 026 229
  • Website:

Cobaw Community Health Services Ltd was established in 1986 and is a not for profit Company Limited by Guarantee, governed by a Board of unpaid Directors. From three staff when our doors opened to over 100 staff in 2018, Cobaw has proven to be flexible, innovative and diligent in focusing on the needs of the community. Cobaw provides a comprehensive range of free and low cost services to over 5,000 people each year in early childhood, youth, families, adults, aged and disability. Cobaw’s mission is: Excellence in health and wellbeing services for all in the community.

Edenhope and District Memorial Hospital

Edenhope and District Memorial Hospital (EDMH) is a one-stop shop for health care in the surrounding community and provides a range of on-site services or hosts visiting services. Our aim is to provide as many services in the community as possible to minimise the amount of travel that people need to undertake to stay healthy.

Heathcote Health

Heathcote Health was established as a tent hospital in the early 1850’s with the first main building being constructed in 1859. It now has a collection of buildings from different eras, providing acute services, urgent care, aged services, allied health and primary care for a community of about 5,000 people. While the Heathcote and district population as a whole is forecast to grow at about the same rate as the City of Greater Bendigo, during the next decade the number of people aged over 65 will about double, creating demand for services tailored to the needs of this cohort.  Heathcote Health is a strong advocate for improving the quality of life of people with dementia and their loved ones while providing a safe and healthy work environment for those providing their care. To this end, Heathcote Health is an active participant in a number of leading research studies focusing on improvements to dementia care.

Kooweerup Regional Health Service

Kooweerup Regional Health Service (KRHS) is a public hospital, committed to providing high quality health services to the community. KRHS is a member of the International Hospitals Health Promoting Network and Global Green and Healthy Hospitals. We have adopted a philosophy of environmental sustainability to reduce our ecological footprint and integrate consideration of the environment into all our decision making and activities.

Mansfield District Hospital

Mansfield District Hospital is located in the Victorian High Country and has been meeting the needs of Mansfield and surrounding communities for nearly 150 years, a resident catchment of 8,500 people, which can increase threefold due to an increasing tourist population. As a provider of a full range of acute, aged care and primary health services, Mansfield District Hospital is an intrinsic part of the community and is proud of the high esteem in which it is held.

Robinvale District Health Services

Rural Northwest Health

Rural Northwest Health is a multi-award winning public health service providing residential aged care, acute and urgent care as well as an extensive range of allied health services. RNH has a worldwide reputation for its ground-breaking ABLE model, developed to support people living with dementia. Services are provided at three campuses – Warracknabeal, Hopetoun and Beulah.

Wimmera Health Care Group

Wimmera Health Care Group is based in the Wimmera subregion of the Grampians, 310 km west of Melbourne and in close proximity to the Grampians National Park. With an operating budget of approximately $87 million, Wimmera Health Care Group provides allied, acute, sub-acute, primary and residential aged care. Employing approximately 850 staff, we are the subregional, acute referral hospital for the Wimmera Southern Mallee region and provide a wide range of specialist services. Our campuses in Horsham and Dimboola service an area of 61,000 square kilometres and a population of approximately 54,000.

Riverland General Hospital

Country Health SA delivers a range of comprehensive health services in hospital and community settings across country South Australia.  We have more than 8000 staff, in 61 hospitals, 25 nursing homes and a range of community health and mental health services, supporting a population of more than 480,000 people across more than 983,000 square kilometres of land.

South Coast District Hospital

Our vision at Country Health SA is to be the best rural health service. Our mission is to grow better services in country and keep people well at home. To achieve this, we partner with individuals, communities, including our health advisory councils, and other organisations, to deliver high quality health care that enhances the lives or rural and remote South Australians, their carers and families.

Molong HealthOne General Practice

Molong HealthOne General Practice is a multidisciplinary hub for integrated primary health care services within Molong and the surrounding villages of Manildra, Cudal, Yeoval, Cargo and Cumnock. Implemented by a very strong practice support team, services include enhanced GP services with additional allied health, practice nurses, primary care nursing services, community and acute home based care, pathology collection service, a child and family health service, weekly exercise programs and a healthy lifestyle program. Local and visiting allied health services include dietetics, speech pathology, occupational therapy, palliative care, psychology, physiotherapy, counselling, women’s health and podiatry. Molong HealthOne embraces an integrated health care model which fosters a team approach across general practice, community health and external providers.

Nyngan Health Service

  • Address: 15 Hoskins Rd, Nyngan NSW 2825
  • Telephone: (02) 6835 1700

Nyngan Health Service is a Multipurpose Unit that consists of a 24hour emergency service, 6 acute care beds, 36 residential aged care beds, community health and ambulatory care. The Health Service also offers a range of primary health services and nurse-led clinics, including child and family health, Aboriginal Health, community mental health and other services. The Health Service’s clinics are a vital part of the health care spectrum, focussing on maintaining good health, or intervening before health problems become acute.