The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is committed to improving the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and encourages applications that address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

On this page:

Search for Indigenous health and medical research and researchers' information on Find funding.

Funding rules

As part of NHMRC's stated commitment to advancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, NHMRC has established certain requirements and processes designed to ensure that research into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is of the highest scientific merit and is beneficial and acceptable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

Applicants proposing to undertake research which specifically relates to the health of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples, or which includes distinct Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, biological samples or data, should be aware of, and must refer to the following documents in formulating their proposal:

To qualify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, at least 20% of the research effort and/or capacity building must relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Indigenous Research Excellence Criteria

Qualifying applications must address the NHMRC Indigenous Research Excellence criteria as follows:

  • Community engagement
    The proposal demonstrates how the research and potential outcomes are a priority for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with relevant community engagement by individuals, communities and/or organisations in conceptualisation, development and approval, data collection and management, analysis, report writing and dissemination of results.
  • Benefit
    The potential health benefit of the project is demonstrated by addressing an important public health issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This benefit can have a single focus or affect several areas, such as knowledge, finance and policy or quality of life. The benefit may be direct and immediate, or it can be indirect, gradual and considered.
  • Sustainability and transferability
    The proposal demonstrates how the results of the project have the potential to lead to achievable and effective contributions to health gain for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, beyond the life of the project. This may be through sustainability in the project setting and/or transferability to other settings such as evidence-based practice and/or policy. In considering this issue the proposal should address the relationship between costs and benefits.
  • Building capability
    The proposal demonstrates how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and researchers will develop relevant capabilities through partnerships and participation in the project.

Panels will consider these in their overall assessment of the application, together with the scheme-specific assessment criteria (refer to the scheme-specific funding rules).

In 2023 NHMRC conducted a national consultation to review the IREC. A report on the consultation is available.

Targeted Calls for Research

The Targeted Call for Research: Commercial determinants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health 2023 opened on 4 October 2023 and closed on 13 December 2023. Peer review is proposed for April/May 2024.

Submissions are always welcome via the Community Research Priorities Portal. This portal enables community and professional groups to submit research topics to NHMRC that may be underfunded or have a significant research knowledge gap. If prioritised, submissions may be developed into a TCR.

For more information, visit the Community Research Priorities Portal.

Previous Targeted Calls for Research have included:

  • Improving Indigenous maternal and chid health in the early years (2022)
  • Nutrition in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (2019)
  • Healthy Ageing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (2019)
  • Social and Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health (2018)
  • Dementia in Indigenous Australians (2017)
  • Suicide prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth (2013)
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (2012).
     

Research priority areas

In 2020, NHMRC sought community input into research priorities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health to inform the basis of TCR grant opportunities.

A public call for research priorities opened in November 2020 and closed in February 2021 and received 32 submissions covering a broad range of topics.