Poche Patron calls for increased funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research projects

3 August 2016

Professor Tom Calma AO appealed to the ARC to match the NHMRC's level of funding for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander projects at a University of Sydney health research showcase last week.

Photo of Poche Patron and Chair Professor Tom Calma AO.

Professor Tom Calma AO, Chair and Patron of The Poche Indigenous Health Network.

Professor Tom Calma AO has called on the Australian Research Council (ARC) to match the proportion of funding provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research projects.

Addressing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research Showcase, presented by The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney, the Chair and Patron of The Poche Indigenous Health Network said: “The NHMRC now has a target of between 5-6 percent for funding to go towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander projects.

“We’re calling on the ARC to match it. If we can expand the funding for research in this area, it’s better for all of us, particularly for the communities we’re doing our research for."

I also strongly encourage senior public servants and policy makers to engage in the research, as research forums like today should be informing public policy.
Professor Tom Calma AO

Speaking about the importance of research in this area, Professor Calma said: “We have a recorded 10 years life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Australia.

“When I wrote the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Report chapter on achieving health equality within a generation in 2005, the gap was 17 years. But there’s still a significant gap compared to our Indigenous brothers and sisters in New Zealand and Canada and the United States where they enjoy five to six years.

“All of our research projects are looking at ways we can influence the way we close that gap.”

Professor Calma also thanked The Poche Centre at the University of Sydney for supporting the annual Health Research Showcase, the fifth since the centre was established in 2008.

“They’re an opportunity to bring together different research elements of the University, to be able to share experiences but also look at ways in which we can work better together,” he said.

If we can encourage more targeted initiatives, we’ll always get better outcomes.
Professor Tom Calma AO

The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney was established and funded by philanthropists Greg Poche AO and Kay Van Norton Poche, along with their friend and co-founder, Reg Richardson AM. They have gifted more than $50m in the past seven years to harness the skills, expertise and resources of the University of Sydney and four other universities to contribute towards Aboriginal health.

The centre draws upon a combination of Commonwealth, State and philanthropic funds and partners with Aboriginal Community Controlled and other organisations to provide specialist health services for Aboriginal people. They also build and support education and career pathways for Aboriginal people, and develop opportunities for students and graduates to participate in Aboriginal health service delivery.

Committed to the ongoing development of a strong research vision and strategy, the centre’s annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research Showcase brings together an array of health researchers, scholars and community collaborators.

This year’s showcase covered three themes: evidence and discourse; meaningful collaboration in Indigenous health; and health, lifestyle and wellbeing. The University of Sydney faculties involved include the Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Faculty of Dentistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, School of Nursing and Midwifery as well as colleagues from The George Institute for Global Health.