A stethescope on an Aboriginal flag.

Indigenous health projects receive funding boost

8 December 2017

The University’s National Centre for Cultural Competence has been involved in two successful grant applications; over $2.5 million towards projects designed to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has awarded $1.45 million funding for a new research project ‘Decolonising practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care’.

Acknowledging that ongoing colonisation negatively affects the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the project will seek to determine the impact of strategies used by primary health care organisations to improve health outcomes.

The researchers will partner with five primary health care organisations over five years to develop a theoretical framework to guide health care strategies, understand more about the health impacts of such strategies and identify ways to strengthen policy support for the work.

Led by Flinders University, the National Centre for Cultural Competence (NCCC) is a participating institution along with Queensland Health and Canada’s University of British Columbia.

Last month, the NHMRC also announced a $1.1 million grant towards a maternity program designed to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their babies.

‘Birthing on Country’, led by the University of Queensland with researchers from the NCCC and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, will examine the sustainability of a Birthing on Country service model in communities Australia-wide – as well as the impact of the model on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, their communities and health services.

The model emphasises “culturally and clinically safe care, strengthened support for families, growth of a culturally capable workforce and the Indigenous maternal and infant workforce,” according to project lead Professor Sue Kildea from the University of Queensland.

University of Sydney’s acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) Professor Juanita Sherwood, a Wiradjuri woman with 30 years’ experience working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and education, was optimistic about what the projects could achieve.

“Both these projects have very practical aims: to improve the health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Professor Sherwood said.

We need to grow our evidence base, to understand better what makes a real difference for our people – and to be able to demonstrate this, in order to garner the political, policy and societal support needed to lessen the health gap.
Professor Juanita Sherwood, acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor

“A culturally competent health delivery service is key to achieving this goal.”

The NCCC aims to develop and integrate cultural competence within the University community and broader society through learning, teaching, research and engagement.

Cultural competence is the ability to participate ethically and effectively in intercultural settings.

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