Frequently asked questions about the Poche Centre


A: All clinical services previously provided by the Poche Centre have transitioned to the appropriate Local Health District or Aboriginal Medical Service under the umbrella of NSW Health. 

The University Sydney and the donors to the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health are incredibly proud of the work that has been done in Aboriginal communities. We are grateful to the clinicians for their contributions, as together we strived to close the gap in life expectancy and improve health outcomes for our First Nations peoples. 

A:  NSW Health and its network of clinics is much better suited to providing clinical services than a university. When we undertook an external performance review in late 2021, the University of Sydney and NSW Health  agreed we should concentrate on delivering world class research, rather than also trying to provide clinical services. 

The reality is a fully focused research centre, in this case the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, in genuine partnership with empowered communities, can generate the world-class research that will drive transformational change in health care practice and policy.  

A: The Centre’s mandate is to undertake world class research that transforms national health policy and practice in order to close the gap in life expectancy and improve the health outcomes of First Nations peoples. 

The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health is in transition to becoming one of only seven leading ‘flagship’ research centres in the Sydney University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health.

A: Flagship centres undertake world-leading research in order to address significant, long-term challenges. They focus on delivering outcomes through multiple research programs in their defined field. They aim to deliver change that is transformational. 


The Poche Centre is now one of Sydney University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health’s seven leading ‘flagship’ research centres. As such we are now under the same governance and operational arrangements as all University flagship centres. Flagship research centres are not able to take direct responsibility for clinical services.


We will instead work in partnership with health care institutions and providers. This change recognises the fact that health care institutions (not universities) have the expertise and governance arrangements to manage clinical care. 

A: Associate Professor Michelle Dickson has been appointed Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health following a competitive application process. As the newest FMH flagship research centre, Michelle will lead the Poche Centre in its mission to close the gap in life expectancy and other health outcomes with First Nations people.

Michelle is a Darkinjung/Ngarigu woman and has worked in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health service delivery, health professions education and higher education for nearly thirty years. She joined the Sydney School of Public Health at the University of Sydney in 2010, where she was Deputy Head of School and Academic Lead (Indigenous) until her appointment as Director of the Poche Centre.

Michelle also serves as a board member for numerous external public health and First Nations' health-related bodies, including as Director on the National Board for the Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA), Co-Chair of AHPA's National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee and inaugural Chair of the NSW Ministry of Health's Cultural Reference Group.

Michelle is committed to building upon the world-class research at the Poche Centre and its ambition to achieve health equality and solutions to the complex health problems First Nations people experience. Her aspirations for the Centre include producing research that creates a positive impact on policy and how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services are designed and delivered. 

Regarding Michelle's appointment, University of Sydney, Vice-Chancellor Mark Scott said:

"Our Faculty of Medicine and Health is undertaking world-class research to address health inequities and social justice, inform policy making and service delivery, and to contribute to improving health and wellness outcomes for First Nations' communities. I have no doubt that Michelle will continue to build upon that excellent work and lead new and exciting research development."

By becoming the centrepiece for First Nations research and community engagement at the University of Sydney, we will attract and develop the best and brightest First Nations researchers from across Australia to work on the most critical health issues  facing First Nations people. 

We will also develop and empower First Nations communities as we build a research agenda that responds to community priorities, in partnership with those communities.  

We believe the results of this two-pronged strategy will deliver transformational change in health care practice and policy for First Nations people.

Contact us

  • University of Sydney Poche Indigenous Health Network Room 326, Edward Ford Building (A27) NSW 2006