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Meet the Poche Centre, Sydney's newest flagship research centre

7 October 2022

Learn about the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health

The University of Sydney's newest Flagship Research Centre, the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, takes on the world’s great challenges for common good

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Front from left: Professor Tom Calma AO | Joel Dixon | Jasper Jerome Garay | Back from left: Dr Michael Doyle| Associate Professor Michelle Dickson | Associate Dean Indigenous Strategy & Services, Jason Ardler | Jeremy Heathcote 

A recent report from the world’s largest database of peer-reviewed literature (SCOPUS) places the University of Sydney as the global leader in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research. This news delighted a team of Faculty of Medicine and Health (FMH) researchers assembled for a workshop on the future of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health.

Many of the researchers have been recipients of a Vice Chancellor’s Outstanding Award for their own research with First Nations communities. Their work is critical to the Poche Centre’s newly refreshed ambition to help close the gap in life expectancy for First Nations people and contribute to the improved social and emotional wellbeing of First Nations communities.

Professor Tom Calma AO, the Chair of the national network of Poche Centres, who is also Chancellor of the University of Canberra among his many roles, is heralded for his significant contribution to First Nations health and wellbeing. He, along with the Associate Dean Indigenous Strategy and Services, Jason Ardler, who also contributed to the workshop, was pleased to hear the news of the University of Sydney’s global ranking from the Head of Sydney University’s School of Public Health, Professor Joel Negin.  

Data from the SCOPUS/SCIVAL report

A September 2022 report drawn from Scopus/Scival data found that Sydney University is both number one in the world for First Nations health research, as well as the leading university in Australia in this area. University of Sydney academics have generated 672 publications with close to 5,200 citations related to the First Nations Health since 2017. This number of publications increased exponentially in 2021 (up 23 percent).  

Additional exciting news is that three FMH researchers are among the world’s top ten First Nations health authors by scholarly output over the same period. These researchers (pictured below) are Professor Alan Cass from the School of Public Health (5th), Professor Ross Stewart Bailie from the Sydney Medical School (8th), and Dr Veronica Matthews, also from the Sydney Medical School (10th).

The workshop on the future of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health was an opportunity for Professor Tom Calma to hear of some of the excellent First Nations research and projects underway. And to share information on the broader network of Poche Centres across Australia that he chairs. 

Professor Tom Calma

Professor Tom Calma

Professor Calma shared his thoughts on the critical importance of co-design with Indigenous communities, health care institutions and providers. He spoke of his role in influencing policy and practice, including responding to the current findings of the Royal Commissions into Ageing and Disability as they impact Indigenous communities.

Professor Calma also outlined some of the complexities for First Nations people when it comes to home care for disabled and elderly First Nations people, impacted as they are by inadequate, badly maintained and overcrowded housing. As a key proponent of the Voice to Parliament, Professor Calma is committed to helping to fix some of these issues.

In its transition to a University of Sydney Flagship Research Centre, the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health will fully focus on delivering world class research to address similar significant, long-term health challenges. This recent boost to the Centre’s status by the University recognises that the Poche Centre, in genuine partnership with empowered First Nations communities, is best placed to deliver research to effect transformational change in health care practice and policy. 

The showcase of current research at the recent workshop demonstrated the value of partnering with First Nations communities in developing research capability between the university and the communities.

It also showed that attracting and developing the best and brightest academics to work on the most critical health issues and long-term challenges facing First Nations people will enable the Centre’s aspiration to become the centrepiece for First Nations research at the University of Sydney.

The workshop also heard that there was an all-time high of First Nations students enrolled in FMH courses last year. In addition, there are close to 260 FMH academics engaged in First Nations research.  

See more on some current First Nations research in the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health here.