Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

Community-led research programs on the physical, social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are an important focus for The George Institute for Global Health.

Our research and capacity building initiatives aim to bridge the gap in life expectancy and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to bring about lasting improvements in the health of their communities. Our work in this area is supported by our research patron in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Mr Mick Gooda.

The Institute works collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on innovative research programs aimed at addressing critical health priorities across a range of chronic disease areas, such as cardiovascular and kidney disease, as well as mental health and injury. Among our areas of research are:

  • Improving burn care for Aboriginal children: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are hospitalised for burns and scalds twice as often as other children.
  • Better depression screening in Aboriginal communities: Chronic disease (cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) accounts for 80% of the life expectancy gap experienced by Indigenous people.
  • Driving Change with Aboriginal young people: Road traffic injuries are one of the top 10 contributors to the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.
  • Helping patients track their cardiovascular health: In 2012–13, around one in eight (12.0%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had heart disease.
  • Improving medication adherence: In 2012 - 2013, one in five (20.3%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults had measured high blood pressure.

Building Leadership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research

Our strong track record in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health research is reflected in our high impact published work in the areas of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, respiratory illnesses, maternal health and injury.

However, we believe that to close the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy we must not only find better ways to detect, treat and prevent chronic diseases and injury, we must also invest in the next generation of researchers committed to transforming Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Building the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to lead health research projects is a priority for the Institute.

Central to this commitment is the creation of a Chair of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research – a position the Institute aims to appoint in 2014 - 2015. The Chair will further galvanise the Institute around its objective to close the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy. Providing scholarships, fellowships and professional development opportunities to promising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholars is a fundamental part of our strategy to close the gap.

With strong global networks among patient groups, practitioners, universities, hospitals, health care professionals and health organisations, the Institute is uniquely placed to provide training and development support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers.