Nursing ‘bigger and better’ than academic first thought

FROM a macho teenager who initially thumbed his nose at nursing, Clint Moloney has come a long way – he is now an associate professor in the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Recently appointed to the academic position at USQ Fraser Coast, Associate Professor Moloney brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in evidence-based nursing research, thoracic oncology practices and assistive technologies.

The USQ alumnus said accepting the position in Hervey Bay offered him the opportunity to take on new challenges as an academic and coordinator for the local campus’s School of Nursing and Midwifery.

“I’ve come from Toowoomba for this great opportunity, although I do have a history of visiting USQ Fraser Coast at least three times a year so I’m already familiar with the staff and campus,” Associate Professor Moloney said.

The father of four children aged from eight to 19 years is actively involved in research.

“My research background hinges on ensuring nurses are evidence-based with their practice, and understanding what enables nurses to more actively engage with research,” he said.

“Because of that most of my Post Graduate studies, Masters and PhD have been around research implementation, looking at the factors that drive the adoption of research evidence into practice, particularly in nursing and the health profession in general.

“I’m keen to build research cultures and capacity on the Fraser Coast, not just within USQ but also with our health partners to engage in more research and build bigger platforms for evidence.

“My other key passion is assistive technologies in healthcare. That is, looking at technologies that link to the education of healthcare professionals, for example ‘How can we remotely learn and decrease the amount of time we spend off the ward to learn?’

“I’ve started to look at remote access to laboratories within USQ. One of my PhD students has just finished one of the concepts I was generating, which is an emulated IV pump for students to access online and use for case studies.”

Associate Professor Moloney has also begun research initiatives that look at validating the number of hours students need to be on clinical practice as well as new methods to better engage those students to give them more targeted, structured outcomes.

“I am passionate about making a difference for nursing students nationally. In some of my future research endeavours I foresee going into the space of making sure we’re teaching the right curriculum so students graduate as more level-headed nurses ready to take on the world.”

Associate Professor Moloney’s academic achievements and visions are worlds apart from the aspirations of the macho teenager who got into nursing by chance.

“I was very macho type of teenager and only had nursing on my QTAC as a non-serious and last option.  I left it there because I already had what I wanted – engineering and medicine – at the top.

“But I didn’t get the Tertiary Entrance (TE) score I needed for engineering or medicine. My father said: ‘No son of mine is doing nursing!’ so I deferred uni and found a 12-month manager traineeship at a local department store.

“I didn’t even think about uni again until a mate died in a car accident. That threw me. I had people coming into the store with broken microwaves and washing machines and I thought there’s more to life than broken appliances, so I enrolled in nursing at USQ.

“My intention was to get enrolled, do that for a semester then transfer into what I wanted, which was engineering at the time.

“But I met my wife Samantha, who is a nurse, and got some experience on clinical and started to realise nursing was bigger and better than what I had visualised and stuck with it.

“I graduated, got into oncology and became a chemotherapy nurse for about five years, and then got into management.

“The research started when I went to a thoracic oncology conference where I was one nurse out of 500 medical officers presenting. I looked at the crowd and thought ‘Why aren’t we as a profession engaging in research?’


Photo: Associate Professor Clint Moloney was recently appointed at USQ Fraser Coast in Hervey Bay.

Algae bloom hot spot a fish feeding magnet

FRASER Coast seas have been identified as an algae bloom hot spot and fish feeding magnet by researchers at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) and Griffith University.

Caused by ocean upwelling, a spectacle that involves the wind driving nutrient-rich water towards the ocean surface, the phenomenon plays a crucial role in the fishing industry by producing a readily available food source for yellow fin tuna and other marine species.

University of Southern Queensland Associate Professor in Climatology Joachim Ribbe, PhD research student Daniel Brieva and Griffith University scientists have been able to identify, document and name the ‘Southeast Fraser Island Upwelling System’ for the first time.

In their recently released academic paper titled ‘Is the East Australian Current causing a marine ecological hot-spot and an important fisheries near Fraser Island, Australia?’ the scientists show that the strengths and variability of the East Australian Current is the main cause of this upwelling system.

Dr Ribbe said that on average about eight algae blooms occurred each spring/summer season, occupying large areas of the continental shelf southeast of Fraser Island (see attached image).

“The blooms cover an area about the size of Hervey Bay or about 2000 to 3000 square kilometres. Each bloom lasts about one week.algae bloom

“Algae only bloom if nutrients and light are available. Usually, the surface ocean is low in nutrients but ocean upwelling delivers nutrient-rich water from deeper parts of the ocean back to the surface.

“Basically, ocean upwelling is fertilising the surface ocean and consequently plants start to grow and become available to the ocean food chain.”

Key ecological area

Dr Ribbe said the high marine productivity appears to support a valuable fisheries area.

“This key ecological area located southeast of Fraser Island is one of eight along the east coast of Australia.

“The surface ocean waters to the east of Australia are usually characterised by very low marine productivity. The supply of nutrients in very distinct regions leads to very high marine productivity.”

Dr Ribbe said more work was needed to investigate the bio-diversity of the region and the overall impact the algae blooms were having on the ocean environment.


Photo: University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Associate Professor in Climatology Joachim Ribbe lowers research equipment into water near Fraser Island.

Hervey Bay estuaries under microscope

IF YOU’D like the head’s up on how Hervey Bay’s estuaries will look 40 years from now, have a read of Springer’s new book Estuaries of Australia in 2050 and Beyond.

In it, University of Southern Queensland’s Associate Professor Dr Joachim Ribbe joins other leading Australian estuarine and coastal scientists in presenting detailed reports of 20 iconic estuaries and bays.

USQ Research - Estuaries

USQ Associate Professor Dr Joachim Ribbe collects scientific data from Hervey Bay waters.

“Most Australians live near the coast and human activity has impacted on about 500 Australian estuaries including Hervey Bay,” Dr Ribbe said.

“The estuaries here will have some limited impact from activities such as fishing, aquaculture, farming and urban development, but overall, Hervey Bay is a very special region, an almost pristine environment, and its uniqueness is reflected in being part of the UNESCO declared Great Sandy Biosphere.”

Part of Springer’s Estuaries of the World series, the book suggests what Australian estuaries will look like in 2050 and beyond, based on socio-economic decisions that are made now and changes that are needed to ensure sustainability.

“It is the scientific knowledge as presented in this publication that underpins natural resource management and aids future sustainable development of our coastal environment,” Dr Ribbe said.

978-94-007-7018-8The new book also reveals how Hervey Bay’s physical oceanography works and how climate variability impacts.

“In the future, we need to better understand how the Bay interacts with the waters of the Great Barrier Reef to the north and the ocean to the east in a varying and changing climate.

“Scientific research, in particular continuous routine monitoring, needs to be funded to understand the functioning of coastal environments such as Hervey Bay.

“But there is little investment in these activities by government and industry.

“Yet, it is long-term monitoring and the data from these that underpins decision-making processes enabling future sustainable development of human activities such as aquaculture, tourism and urban expansion.

“There is little gained from one-off research activities as often required in the context of environmental impact assessments. We lack the long-term base studies that would provide a framework.

“In the context of Hervey Bay, I propose that industry and the local council could charge a $1 levy per day on excursions and overnight visitor accommodation, which could be channelled into research for sustainable futures.

“With over 600,000 tourists to the region, that would provide a good funding basis for research activities and long-term monitoring.”

For more information on Estuaries of Australia in 2050 and Beyond visit

Story and photos: JOCELYN WATTS