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Dr Sara Farnbach


image - Sarah Farnbach

Sara is Program Lead, Prevention Program and has a passion for improving the health and wellbeing of vulnerable communities through evidence-based and tailored health service delivery. Her program is focused on preventing harms from alcohol and other drugs in rural and regional NSW and working collaboratively with communities to tailor health services to their setting. Her PhD research focused on facilitators to conducting high-quality and culturally-appropriate research focused on strengthening wellbeing with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. She has research experience working on qualitative designs, embedding evaluations into service delivery and RCTs.

Her current research is focused improving health service delivery to meet the needs of people with alcohol and other drug use problems. She has an interest in novel approaches to service evaluation, using routinely collected data and pragmatic trial designs.

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.


University role: 



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

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


2008 Awarded the Order of Australia Association Foundation Scholarship

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


Talbot B, Farnbach S; Tong A, Chadban S, Sen S, Garvey V, Galligher M, Knight J. Patient and clinician perspectives on the use of remote patient monitoring in peritoneal dialysis, Canadian Journal of Kidney Health and disease, vol 9, 2022; https://doi.org/10.1177/20543581221084499

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, vol. 45, pp. 101302 - 101302, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2022.101302

Farnbach S; Allan J; Wallace R; Aiken A; Shakeshaft A., Formative process evaluation of a guideline-driven process for improving the cultural responsiveness of alcohol and drug treatment services, BMC Health Services Research, vol. 21, 2021; http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12913-021-06367-7

Farnbach S, Fernando J, Coyte J, Simms M, Hackett ML. “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. Dec 2020. Health Promotion Journal of Australia. https://doi.org/10.1002/hpja.452

Farnbach S, Gee G, Eades AM; Evans J, Fernando J, Hammond B; Simms M; DeMasi K; Hackett ML Process evaluation of the Getting it Right study and acceptability and feasibility of screening for depression with the aPHQ-9. BMC Public Health. 2019 19(1): 1270.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-7569-4

Farnbach S, Gee G, Eades AM, Evans J, Fernando J, Hammond B; Simms M; DeMasi K; Hackett ML '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

Farnbach S, Gee G, Eades AM, Evans J, Fernando J, Hammond B; Simms M; DeMasi K; Hackett ML. 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/phrp29341911

The Getting it Right Collaborative Group. Hackett ML & Teixeira-Pinto A (co-primary), Farnbach, SGlozier N, Skinner T, Askew D, Gee G, Cass A, Brown A. Getting it Right: validating a culturally specific screening tool for depression (aPHQ-9) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Medical Journal of Australia. 2019  https://doi.org/10.5694/mja2.50212

Santos, JA, McKenzie, B, Trieu, K, Farnbach, S, Johnson, C, Schultz, J, Thow, AM, Snowdon, W, Bell, C and Webster, J, 2019. Contribution of fat, sugar and salt to diets in the Pacific Islands: a systematic review. Public Health Nutrition, 2018 22(10), pp.1858-1871. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3061259

Carcel C, Farnbach S, Essue BM, Li Q, Glozier N, Jan S, Lindley R, Hackett ML. Returning to Unpaid Work after Stroke: The Psychosocial Outcomes in Stroke Cohort Study. Cerebrovascular Diseases. 2019;47(1-2):1-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30654379

Farnbach S, Evans J, Eades AM, Gee G, Fernando J, Hammond B, Simms M, DeMasi K, & Hackett ML. 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, 2018 7(11), e017612. http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/7/11/e017612

Whalan S, Farnbach SVolk L, Gwynn J, Lock M, Trieu K, Brimblecombe J, & Webster J. What do we know about the diets of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia? A systematic literature review. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 2017 41(6), 579-584. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12721

Farnbach S, Eades AM, Gwynne J, Glozier N, Hackett ML. The conduct of Indigenous primary health care research focused on social and emotional wellbeing involving collaborations: A systematic review. Public Health Res Practice. 2018;28(2):e27451704.  https://doi.org/10.17061/phrp27451704

Farnbach S, Eades AM, Fernando J, Gwynne J, Glozier N, Hackett ML. The quality of Australian Indigenous primary health care research focusing on social and emotional wellbeing: a systematic review. Public Health Res Practice. 27(4):e27341700. https://doi.org/10.17061/phrp27341700

Hackett ML, Farnbach S, Glozier N, Skinner T, Teixeira-Pinto A, Askew D, Gee G, Cass A, Brown A. 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;6(12). http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2016-015009

Farnbach S, Eades AM, Hackett M. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-focused primary healthcare social and emotional wellbeing research: A systematic review protocol. Systematic Reviews. 2015;4(189). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-015-0180-

Published conference abstracts


Farnbach S, Foley C, Sara G, Shakeshaft A, Lappin J, Allan J, Courtney R, Farrell M, Dobbins T. Who is accessing both mental health and drug and alcohol services? Mapping the overlap to identify opportunities for improving specialised care Drug and Alcohol Review. 2019;38:S103-S.

Farnbach S, Fernando J, Coyte J, Simms M, Hackett M. "I felt like I didn't get the help I needed" A qualitative study of male Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander drug and alcohol rehabilitation clients' experiences with attending primary health care. Drug and Alcohol Review. 2019;38:S44-S5.

Wallace R, Allan J, Farnbach S, Shakeshaft A. Development and testing of an audit tool in mainstream drug and alcohol services Drug and Alcohol Review. 2019;38:S103-S.

Teaching & Supervision
I am available to supervise: