The heart of the Centre for Research Excellence in "STRengthening systems for InDigenous health care Equity (or STRIDE)" sits in Lismore, New South Wales, on Widjabul/Wia-bal Country. It is a collaborative effort between many organisations and communities spanning the nation.
STRIDE's achievements highlight the power of collaborative research in promoting healthcare equity through strengthening primary care systems. By prioritising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and listening to the voices of Indigenous communities and services, the CRE serves as a model for improving service quality through ground-up approaches.
STRIDE research covers a broad range of wellbeing areas. Recently, at the Lowitja conference held on Gimuy-walubarra Yidinji Country (Cairns, Queensland), the team presented on several projects including Women’s Actions for Mums and Bubs and Healing Country. Active participation of community members in each of the presentations underscores STRIDE’s strong dedication for community driven research.
An essential aspect of STRIDE's success lies in its longstanding history of collaboration. The CRE has a rich heritage, with some members working together for an impressive 20 years. Over the years, STRIDE has evolved, transitioning from a clinical focus on chronic diseases, maternal care, and child health to a broader exploration of social-cultural and environmental determinants of health facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
STRIDE is closely connected to the "Healthy Environment and Lives" (HEAL) National Research Network focused on climate and health solutions. Health of Country is vital for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing. There is natural overlap in the work programs of STRIDE and HEAL, both promoting Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing, sustainably caring for Country and each other. Collaborative outputs include the 2021 Lowitja Discussion Paper on Climate Change and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, the Science review on an Australian Indigenous prescription for planetary health and soon to be released, climate change chapter in the NACCHO-RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Preventive Health Guidelines.
Relationships and respect are central to STRIDE's ethos. A noteworthy 50% of Chief and Associate Investigators are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander individuals. Diversity and inclusivity are deeply ingrained in STRIDE's fabric. The CRE exemplifies an open and welcoming research collaboration. Their strength lies in their capacity to bring in early to mid-career researchers from various backgrounds and encouraging growth and freedom to pursue interests and build on existing skills.
One emerging star is Talah Laurie, a young Gumbaynggirr & Yaegl woman. Initially unsure about what being a researcher entailed, Talah now infuses her work with her unique style and talents, including leveraging social media such as Tik Tok and Youtube to amplify her research messages and break down barriers to understanding what research is and the positive impacts researchers can make when they work with people, Country and culture properly. Her unconventional journey into academia and the non-hierarchical structure at STRIDE enables highly valued diverse intergenerational exchange of knowledges and experiences within the team.
By nurturing emerging talent and embracing diverse perspectives, the CRE works as a habitat for transformative ideas and novel approaches. They have embraced the arts, such as poetry, to convey research findings and collect valuable data. This innovative use of poetry not only adds a creative touch to their work but also serves as a wellbeing mechanism for the team. Every Friday morning, they come together for 30 minutes to engage in poetry, fostering a supportive and nurturing environment for all involved. Watch out for the STRIDE Deadly Poets Anthology to be released in 2024.
In conclusion, STRIDE is more than just a research program; it is an endeavour that places culture, respect, reciprocity and relationships at its core. With its innovative use of the arts, commitment to Indigenous-led methodologies, and non-hierarchical approach, STRIDE hopes its impact will undoubtedly resonate far beyond the academic realm, positively transforming the lives of Indigenous communities and inspiring the broader research community to reimagine what research can be.
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