Aboriginal Health

Murdoch Children's established the Aboriginal Health Program 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.

"Jillay wannik - "Healthy pathway" By Dixon Patten

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 over 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.

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

Aboriginal Health Program

We established the Aboriginal Health Program 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 the Murdoch Children's Research Institute 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 of 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 and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group

This group provides 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:

  • Support us to develop a positive profile in Victorian Aboriginal communities
  • Set directions to guide engagement with Victorian Aboriginal communities and community organisations
  • Provide advice to guide development of research priorities and partnerships to benefit Victorian Aboriginal children, young people and families
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Advocate and advise us 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

Resources

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Protocols in Victoria
    MCRI Guide for Researchers
    On behalf of the MCRI Aboriginal Reference group, it is with great pleasure that we share this important guide for MCRI researchers with respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural protocols in Victoria.
    pdfDownload document (PDF, 2.49 MB)