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Aboriginal Health

Jilay wannik - Healthy pathway

Image: "Jillay wannik - Healthy pathway" By Dixon Patten, Yorta Yorta and Gunnai artist - Bayila Creative

Health, wellbeing and equity

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have occupied the continent now known as Australia for more than 60,000 years. Today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue connections to culture, identity, knowledge, place and relationships to Country.

Despite this, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families experience the legacy and ongoing impact of colonisation, loss of land and decimation of culture, language and community, and experiences of racism and discrimination. While there have been significant gains in some domains of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child health, there are still many areas where improvements need to be made. Strong leadership by and collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is key to effective research responses to the adversity faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.

Vision

Health, wellbeing and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and families.

Mission

  1. To establish a community-driven research program that will lead to sustainable, long term improvement in health and wellbeing of Aboriginal children, young people and families.
  2. To work in partnership with Aboriginal organisations and communities to co-design, implement and evaluate strategies to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal children, young people and families.
  3. To work in partnership with Aboriginal communities to co-design, implement and evaluate strategies to reverse the upward trends in mental health disorders, self-harm and suicide in children and young people.

Jilay wannik - healthy pathway

Image: "Jillay wannik - Healthy pathway" By Dixon Patten, Yorta Yorta and Gunnai artist - Bayila Creative

MCRI’s Aboriginal Health Program

MCRI’s Aboriginal Health Program was established to address gaps in evidence by working with Aboriginal communities to co-design, implement and evaluate strategies to promote health, wellbeing and equity for Aboriginal children, young people and families. 

Our first priority is to prevent and reduce impacts of intergenerational trauma and reverse upward trends in rates of mental health disorders, self-harm and suicide among Aboriginal children and young people.  

The Aboriginal Health Program also aims to build capacity and capability at MCRI and the Melbourne Children’s campus supporting the expansion of collaborative research working with Aboriginal communities. Historically, Aboriginal health research has largely focused on people living in remote communities. There are major gaps in knowledge and understanding of factors influencing the health Aboriginal children living in urban environments and the southern states.

To address these gaps, the Aboriginal Health Program is spearheading a range of initiatives to expand the number of Aboriginal researchers on campus and foster stronger, collaborative engagement with Aboriginal communities in Victoria and South Australia. 

Building on existing relationships with Aboriginal community organisations and communities, the Intergenerational Health team is taking a lead role in this initiative. Leveraging the multidisciplinary expertise on campus and support of the Royal Children’s Foundation, and working in partnership with Aboriginal communities, we are building the expertise needed to break intergenerational cycles of trauma and social adversity, and ultimately reduce health disparities. 

Aboriginal Reference Group

MCRI has established an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group is to provide strategic guidance and cultural advice to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research Leadership Team, the Institute Director and Institute Executive. 

Specifically, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group will: 

  1. Support MCRI to develop a positive profile in Victorian Aboriginal communities 
  2. Set directions to guide engagement with Victorian Aboriginal communities and community organisations 
  3. Provide advice to guide development of research priorities and partnerships to benefit Victorian Aboriginal children, young people and families 
  4. Support MCRI to expand and empower its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce and create career opportunities and pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in research 
  5. Support MCRI to advocate for health system and broader social change to benefit Aboriginal children, young people and families based on research evidence. This includes advice about knowledge translation to ensure research has tangible benefits for Aboriginal communities. 
  6. Advocate and provide advice to MCRI about how to actively embed the ethos of Victorian Aboriginal self-determination in all aspects of Aboriginal health research. 

Members

  • Bambu Di Kerr
  • N’arweet Carolyn Briggs
  • Justin Mohamed (Co-chair)
  • Helen Kennedy (Co-chair)
  • Shawana Andrews
  • Indi Clarke
  • Andrew Jackomos
  • Janine Mohamed
  • Trevor Pearce
  • Selena White
  • Graham Gee
Sharon Thorpe
Role: 
Senior Project Officer
Jordan Gibbs
Role: 
Research Assistant