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Dr Sara Farnbach


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Sara is Program Lead, RISE Team (Research, Innovate, Strengthen, Embed) at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), UNSW. She has passion for partnering with priority populations to enhance health and wellbeing through evidence-based health services and health programs, which are tailored to local needs and priorities.

Her research program is focused on preventing harms from alcohol and other drugs in rural and regional NSW and working in partnership with clients, clinicians and community members to tailor health services to this setting. She has an interest in novel approaches to evaluation, using routinely collected data and pragmatic trial designs. She has research experience working on qualitative designs, embedding evaluations into service delivery and RCTs.

Sara is a Registered Nurse with clinical experience in renal dialysis units in far north Queensland. She has a Masters of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and has worked in the Philippines and the Pacific on several programs including communicable disease control and maternal and child health. She has also worked on health promotion programs in Australia.

Sara was awarded the Early Career Award for excellence in research relative to career opportunities by The Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs in 2023.


University role: 
Senior Lecturer



2023 CIA - NSW Health [Tender] "A whole of community prevention and education framework"

2022 CIA - NSW Health Prevention Research Support Program "Preventing alcohol and other drug harms in rural communities in NSW" 

2022 CIA - South West Sydney Primary Health Network  "Evaluation of Psychoeducation Modules for Drug and Alcohol Support Service Summary"

2021 CIA - Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications [Tender] "Use of alcohol and other drugs on Norfolk Island and development of potential responses"

2020 CID - Commonwealth Department of Health [Tender] "Monitoring and evaluation of the kava importation pilot"

2020 CID - Alcohol and Drug Foundation "The integration of Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) into service-delivery by Aboriginal Community Controlled Services"

2019 CIA - NDARC Seed Funding Application "Early intervention for unhealthy alcohol use among older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: using the Grog Survey App"

2019 CID - NDARC Seed Funding Application Optimising retention in Opioid Agonist Therapy: A retrospective evaluation

2018 CID - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program Seed Funding The George Institute

2016 Fellowship - John Chalmers Program Grant Scholarship by The George Institute for Global Health

2016 CIA - Cross Cultural Public Health Research Award The University of Sydney


2023 Early Career Award for excellence in research, from the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs.

2023 Kevin Rozzoli Community Impact Award, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW

2023 Richard Mattick Award, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW

2008 Order of Australia Association Foundation Scholarship



drug and substance abuse
research design
effectiveness evaluation
linked data
linked data
Research activities: 


  1. Gibbs, D. Colledge-Frisby, S, Farnbach, S., Doyle, M., Shakeshaft, A., Larney, S. (2024) Associations between supported accommodation and health and re-offending outcomes: A retrospective data linkage study. Journal of Urban Health. Vol 101; 80-91 DOI: 10.1007/s11524-023-00824-w
  2. Economidis G., Eades, A.M., Shakeshaft, A., Farnbach, S. (2023) Improving the pragmatic usefulness of the scoring matrix for the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR). A proposal for a more frequency-based approach: The CFIR-f. 18(11): e0295204. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0295204
  3. Wallace, R., Hackett, M.L., Farnbach, S. Improving health and drug service access for Indigenous people in Australia. Taking Drugs (2023). [Invited Editorial] Improving Health and Drug Service Access for Indigenous People in Australia (talkingdrugs.org)
  4. Economidis, G., Farnbach, S., Eades, A.M., Falster, K., Shakeshaft, A. (2023). Enablers and barriers to the implementation of Multisystemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect (MST-CAN) into the routine delivery of child protection services in New South Wales, Australia. Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 155, 2023. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2023.107297
  5. Gibbs, D., Stockings, E., Larney, S., Bromberb D, Shakeshaft, A, Farnbach, S. The impact of supported accommodation on health and criminal justice outcomes of people released from prison: a systematic literature review. Harm Reduct J 20, 91 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12954-023-00832-8
  6. Foley, C.; Allan, J.; Lappin, J.; Courtney, R.; Farnbach, S.; Henderson, A.; Shakeshaft, A. (2023) Utilising the Implementation of Integrated Care to Develop a Pragmatic Framework for the Sustained Uptake of Service Innovations (SUSI). Healthcare 2023, 11, 1786. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare11121786
  7. Economidis, G., Farnbach, S., Falster, K., Eades, A.M. and Shakeshaft, A. (2023). Identifying enablers and barriers to the implementation of Functional Family Therapy–Child Welfare (FFT-CW®) into the routine delivery of child protection services in New South Wales, Australia. Children and Youth Services Review, p.106927. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2023.106927   
  8. Farnbach S, Henderson A, Allan J, Wallace R, Shakeshaft A. A Cluster-Randomised Stepped-Wedge Impact Evaluation of a Pragmatic Implementation Process for Improving the Cultural Responsiveness of Non-Aboriginal Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services: A Pilot Study (2023) Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(5), 4223; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20054223  
  9. Farnbach S, Fernando J, Coyte J, Simms M, Hackett ML. (2023) “I tried to get help about my addiction but he just gave me tablets:” male Aboriginal drug and alcohol rehabilitation clients’ experiences and preferences speaking about substance use in primary care. BMC Primary Care. 2023 Dec;24(1):1-0.
  10. Hopkins RE, Degenhardt L, Campbell G, Farnbach S, Gisev N. (2022) “Frustrated with the whole system”: a qualitative framework analysis of the issues faced by people accessing health services for chronic pain. BMC Health Services Research. 2022 Dec 31;22(1):1603. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-022-08946-8

  11. Talbot, B., Farnbach, S., Tong, A., Chadban, S., Sen, S., Garvey, V., . . . Knight, J. (2022). Patient and Clinician Perspectives on the use of Remote Patient Monitoring in Peritoneal Dialysis. Canadian Journal of Kidney Health and Disease, 9. https://doi.org/10.1177/20543581221084499
  12. Trudgett, S., Griffiths, K., Farnbach, S., & Shakeshaft, A. (2022). A framework for operationalising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data sovereignty in Australia: Results of a systematic literature review of published studies. eClinicalMedicine, 45. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2022.101302
  13. Farnbach S, Allan J, Wallace R, Shakeshaft A. (2021) Formative process evaluation of a guideline-driven process for improving the cultural responsiveness of alcohol and drug treatment services. BMC Health Services Research. 2021, 21 352 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-021-06367-7
  14. Farnbach S, Fernando J, Coyte J, Simms M, Hackett ML.  (2020) “It's hard for me to tell my story” The experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male clients at a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre using primary health care. Health Promotion Journal of Australia. 2020 Dec 28. https://doi.org/10.1002/hpja.452
  15. Farnbach S, Gee G, Eades AM et al. Process evaluation of the Getting it Right study and acceptability and feasibility of screening for depression with the aPHQ-9. (2019) BMC Public Health. 2019 19(1): 1270.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-7569-4
  16. The Getting it Right Collaborative Group Getting it Right: validating a culturally specific screening tool for depression (aPHQ-9) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. (2019) Medical Journal of Australia 211, no. 1 (2019): 24-30 https://doi.org/10.5694/mja2.50212
  17. Carcel C, Farnbach S, Essue B.M, Li Q, Glozier N, Jan S, Lindley R, Hackett M.L. (2019) Returning to Unpaid Work after Stroke: The Psychosocial Outcomes in Stroke Cohort Study. Cerebrovasc Dis 2019;47:1–7 https://doi.org/10.1159/000496399
  18. Farnbach S, Gee G, Eades AM et al. (2019) 'We're here to listen and help them as well': A qualitative study of staff and patient perceptions about participating in social and emotional wellbeing research at primary healthcare services. BMC Psychiatry 2019 19:294. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-019-2263-8
  19. Farnbach S, Gee G, Eades AM et al. (2019) What are the resourcing requirements for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care research project? Public Health Res Pract. 2019; Online early publication. https://doi.org/10.17061/phrp29341912
  20. Farnbach S Evans J, Eades AM, et al. (2017) Process evaluation of a primary healthcare validation study of a culturally-adapted depression screening tool for use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: Study protocol BMJ Open http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/7/11/e017612
  21. Whalan S, Farnbach S, Volk L, et al. (2017) What do we know about the diets of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia? A systematic literature review. ANZ Jnl of Public Health http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12721
  22. Farnbach S, Eades AM, Hackett ML. et al. (2018) The conduct of Indigenous primary health care research focused on social and emotional wellbeing involving collaborations: A systematic review. Public Health Res Pract. https://doi.org/10.17061/phrp27451704
  23. Farnbach S, Eades AM, Hackett ML. et al. (2017) The quality of Australian Indigenous primary health care research focusing on social and emotional wellbeing: a systematic review. Public Health Res Pract. https://doi.org/10.17061/phrp27341700
  24. Hackett ML, Farnbach S, Hackett ML, et al. (2016) Getting it Right: study protocol to determine the diagnostic accuracy of a culturally-specific measure to screen for depression in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. BMJ open. 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2016-015009
  25. Farnbach S, Eades AM, Hackett M. (2015) Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-focused primary healthcare social and emotional wellbeing research: A systematic review protocol. Systematic Reviews. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-015-0180-6   
Teaching & Supervision
I am available to supervise: