Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

Description of the artwork

The artwork (top of page) for the National Health and Medical Research Council's work with Indigenous health and medical research communicates empowerment of people over their health, the progression of learning and knowledge out from the meeting place (NHMRC - bottom left corner), where many people are gathered. In the streams there are the sources of nutrition and health - ants, berry bush and fish, as well as stars which symbolise new ideas. 
 

NHMRC is committed to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This commitment covers all aspects of NHMRC's responsibilities: pursuing activities which raise the standard of individual and public health throughout Australia, fostering the development of consistent health standards between the states and territories, supporting medical and public health research and training and promoting consideration of ethical issues related to health.

NHMRC’s long standing commitment to improve the health of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders through the support of health research and its translation is set out as a priority in each year’s Corporate Plan.

International Partnerships

Tripartite Agreement

The NHMRC, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) are committed to working both within and between their agencies to improve the health of Indigenous Peoples – the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada, the Māori people in New Zealand and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia.

In December 2017, the agencies renewed their commitment to work together for another five years on mutual Indigenous health research priorities.

Road Map 3 Public Consultation Closed

NHMRC has committed to develop Road Map 3 to guide and communicate its objectives and investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research for the next decade.

After a national consultation of workshops with various stakeholders, a draft Road Map 3 has been developed. This was opened for public consultation from 13 October to 10 December 2017. Public consultation is now closed. More information can be found on the  NHMRC website.

Research Translation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

NHMRC Translating Research into Policy and Practice (TRIPP) Forum

On 17 May 2016, NHMRC held a forum bringing key researchers and stakeholders together to discuss research translation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. This looked to identify evidence practice and policy gaps, effectiveness of interventions and other health questions relevant to Indigenous Australians. Advice was provided to the CEO on appropriate courses of action.

Final Report – Overview of Systematic Reviews of Research into the Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (Overview)

In 2015 the Australasian Cochrane Centre (the Cochrane Collaboration) were contracted to identify current systematic reviews (2012 onwards) that included studies involving Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples and considered effects of interventions on health.

The search identified 25 reviews and summarised the characteristics of current systematic reviews. This included quantitative evaluations of the effects of interventions (including programs and services) on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Overview provides information about the type and volume of current review evidence available for informing policy and practice. It also identifies gaps in systematic review activity, providing information to inform decisions about where new or updated reviews may be needed, as well as a list of epidemiological reviews, the findings of which may highlight the need for intervention research.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research Funding

There has been a steady increase in the proportion of NHMRC funds spent on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research. In 2016, expenditure was 6.3% of the MREA, or approximately $52 million.

Summary of Expenditure: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research 

Year Expenditure Proportion %
2016 $51,809,360 6.3%
2015 $55,821,952

6.3%

2014 $49,091,524 5.8%
2013 $41,491,263 5.4%
2012 $46,622,603 5.6%
2011 $45,477,633 5.8%
2010 $41,131,773 5.7%
2009 $36,941,667 5.2%
2008 $32,260,469 5.2%
2007 $23,954,223 4.6%
2006 $20,458,752 4.6%
2005 $18,034,833 4.4%
2004 $12,019,028 3.5%
2003 $9,894,411 3.2%
2002 $6,444,008 2.4%
2001 $5,676,139 2.7%
2000

$3,769,450

2.2%

More information:

Funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Medical Research and Researchers

NHMRC funds Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and medical research across all its funding schemes. In addition, it has established specific funding schemes to support research in priority areas and to build capacity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Indigenous Advisory and Stakeholder Engagement

The NHMRC has established an advisory committee to seek advice on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and health research issues: Principal Committee Indigenous Caucus (PCIC).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research Ethics

In implementing its mandate to foster consideration of ethical issues relating to health, NHMRC has undertaken specific activities to address concerns articulated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in relation to the ethics of health research.

In 1991, the NHMRC developed the Interim Guidelines on Ethical Matters in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research. These were reviewed and in 2003 replaced by Values and Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research. In 2005, NHMRC published Keeping research on track: a guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about health research ethics.

In 2013, the NHMRC commenced its review of the Values and Ethics Guidelines to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research is being conducted in an ethical and culturally safe and appropriate manner as to protect the health, safety and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Advice

NHMRC develops or endorses national guidelines and provides health advice to the Australian people and Government. It has implemented a number of initiatives that address health priority areas for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Capacity Building of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Researchers

National Forum – Research Excellence through Building Capacity of Indigenous Researchers

On 8 April 2014, NHMRC held a national forum to bring Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers and key stakeholders together to; develop a model to build and strengthen the capacity and research excellence of Indigenous health researchers; encourage applicants to apply to NHMRC schemes; and seek feedback on Chapter 3 of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

Tripartite Agreement - Mentorship Workshop

The NHMRC participated in a Mentorship Workshop with HRC and CIHR in Melbourne in May 2013 to identify effective ways to build capacity and mentor Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical health researchers. 

Reconciliation Action Plan

The NHMRC has developed a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in collaboration with Reconciliation Australia about turning good intentions into real actions and rising to the challenge of reconciling Australia. A RAP is a business plan that uses an holistic approach to create meaningful relationships, enhance respect and promote sustainable opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Previous RAP:

NHMRC Publications Relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health