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NHMRC

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Agenda Working Group (RAWG)

Summary media release information

Date: 
07 July 2002
Type: 
Ministerial Media Release
Contact for further information: 
Jeanne Klener on (02) 6289 5796 or 0401 995 534
  • The National Health and Medical Research Council has recognised the need to develop a cohesive and coordinated approach to address the health research needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • As a consequence, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Agenda Working Group (RAWG) was established as a joint undertaking between the NHMRC and OATSIH in 1997.
  • RAWG, a sub-committee of the Strategic Research Development Committee (SRDC), a principle committee of the NHMRC, is comprised of researcher and experts in Indigenous health and representatives of the NHMRC, the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH), the Standing Committee for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (SCATSIH), and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).
  • RAWG comprises a majority of Indigenous members, and is currently chaired by Mr John Delaney, a former Health Commissioner of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and a member of the NHMRC Council.

The RAWG Road Map

  • Early in 2001, the RAWG undertook to develop a 'Road Map' which outlines a consultative process and a way to implement this consultative process, with the end result being the identification and codification of agreed national research priorities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
  • When completed, it is proposed that the outcomes of the 'Road Map' consultative process will be widely available to inform interested parties (eg. research funding organisations, researchers, policy makers, Indigenous community organisations) of the agreed strategic research priorities within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
  • During 2001/2002 RAWG developed a 'Road Map' consultation document which identifies six major themes for strategic research, and which outlines the consultative process for identifying and obtaining consensus on priority research questions within the six broad themes.
  • The six research themes identified in the Road Map consultation document are:
  • Descriptive research which outlines patterns of health risk, disease and death. How can this information be utilised to improve the health standards of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
  • A research focus on the factors and process that promote resilience and wellbeing; in particular but not exclusively, during the periods of pregnancy, infancy, childhood and adolescence and form the basis for good health throughout the lifespan.
  • A focus on health services research, which describes the optimum means of delivering preventative, diagnostic and treatment based health services and interventions to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • A focus on the association between health status and health gain and policy and programs that lie outside the direct influence of the health sector.
  • A focus on engaging with research and action in previously under-researched Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations and communities.
  • Development of the Nation's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research capacity (including training Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers) and health research practice in relation to Aboriginal communities.
  • It was proposed to progress the development of the Road Map in the first instance via a consultation seeking agreement for the concepts of the Road Map from key stakeholders including the NHMRC, OATSIH, NACCHO, SCATSIH and ATSIC.
  • It was also agreed that a series of workshops should be conducted involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and researchers, in addition to other stakeholders. The purpose of the workshops is to obtain consensus on, and to refine, priority research questions from the broad themes for health research identified in the Road Map consultation document.
  • The SRDC has agreed to provide the majority of funding to support the workshops ($175,000). OATSIH have agreed to contribute a further $75,000.
  • In addition to the workshops, it was proposed that a paper based consultation covering the same issues be conducted concurrently with the workshops, to enable coverage of a broader range of views from institutions and other organisations not represented at the workshops.