Indigenous research

Thinking of doing research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?

Staff at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit are skilled and experienced in conducting cutting-edge research with Indigenous people and communities.

Led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers, we are committed to growing the opportunities for Indigenous people to lead and conduct their own research through employment and collaboration, through research student support, and through occasional opportunities for short-term residencies at UQ.

We provide a challenging, rigorous and collegiate environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research scholars and students to develop their ideas, skills and expertise.

We use the latest in Indigenist and transdisciplinary methodologies and we are driven by a strong commitment to ethical and empowering research. We can provide advice on working ethically with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, on developing research questions that matter, and on designing and decolonising research programs and projects to create change in the lives of Indigenous people.

Our current specialisations include critically Indigenist approaches to public health, critical race studies, anthropology, archaeology and cultural studies, and we have strong research links to other schools within the University including political science, history, philosophy, linguistics, human movement, nursing, and geography.

We also have well-developed relationships with other Indigenous research organisations locally, across Australia and internationally, and we are constantly looking for opportunities to collaborate with new partner organisations.

Torres Strait Engagement Project

The core objective of the Torres Strait Engagement Project is to engage directly with local Islander communities in the region to highlight and address interest areas of development, education and research.

The primary function of the project is to focus on supporting the development of local business initiatives by building entrepreneurial capacity of Torres Strait Island communities.

The project objective communication line is via local Native Title Bodies Corporate, and each community representative of TSI Regional Council and Torres Strait Regional Authority.

Saibai Island Language and Cultural Knowledge Project

Saibai Island Language and Cultural Knowledge Project


Funded by: Australian Research Council (Discovery Indigenous)
Administering organisation: The University of Queensland
Investigative team: Alistair Harvey, Associate Professor Jon Willis

Summary

The Saibai Island Language and Cultural Knowledge Project will engage cultural knowledge custodians, Kalaw Kawaw Ya language speakers and Saibai Island linguists to update information relating to existing audio and video recordings collected from as early as the late 1800s.

The project is designed primarily for the purpose of safeguarding Saibailagaw knowledge and oral histories for current and future generations of Saibailagal.

New recordings utilising audio and video equipment will be produced where gaps in knowledge and oral histories exist.

The process in which this occurs will be directed by senior Saibailagal and will inform individual, clan and tribal ownership details and subsequent access protocols by both Saibailagal and non Saibailagal.

The trouble with culture

The trouble with culture: Rationalizing Indigenous health inequality


Funded by:Australian Research Council [DECRA]
Administering organisation: The University of Queensland
Investigative Team: Dr Chelsea Bond

Summary

This project aims to advance understanding of the importance of race in contemporary Indigenous public health discourse and practice. Using critical race theory, this project will illuminate our understanding of, and ability to address Indigenous health inequality and support the formulation of a race-critical Australia public health research agenda.

Through using Participatory Action Research with students, tutors, course coordinators and invited community lecturers, this project aims to investigate which media formats would be best suited to create course materials for ABTS1010 and ABTS1000, and investigate the use of a multimedia course material.

What could World Heritage listing deliver for Indigenous people?

What could World Heritage listing deliver for Indigenous people? The Australian experience in global context


Funded by: Australian Research Council (Discovery Grant)
Administering organisation: The University of Queensland 
Investigative team: Chief Investigators Professor Ian Lilley, Professor Marc Hockings, Associate Professor Celmara Pocock (USQ), Associate Professor Jon Willis. Research Assistant Helena Kajlich and previously Lee Sheppard.

Summary

This project investigates the difference between the intentions of the World Heritage system regarding Indigenous people and what it actually delivers. There is almost no research on this issue despite UNESCO's aim to expand the non-Western dimensions of the World Heritage program.

The study will develop innovative methods that integrate Western and Indigenous knowledge, substantially boosting knowledge of Indigenous perspectives on World Heritage.

The outcome will be an evidence-based model that better mediates UNESCO's universalising approach with the particular interests of Indigenous communities, assisting the global 'heritage industry' to address the complex demands of the postcolonial era

Meriba buay – Ngalpan wakaythoemamay (We come together to think)

Meriba buay – Ngalpan wakaythoemamay (We come together to think): Evaluating a Community of Practice for Torres Strait Islander Health and Well-being


Funded by: The Lowitja Institute Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health CRC
Administering organisation: James Cook University
Investigative team: Dr Felecia Watkin-Lui (JCU – Project Leader), Dr Sanchia Shibasaki (S4SC – Project Partner), Dr Cass Hunter (CSIRO), Dr Shaun Taylor (QLD Health), Dr Vinnitta Mosby (JCU), Ms Juanita Sellwood (HDR JCU), Mr Daniel Grainger (JCU), Mr Al Harvey (UQ), Ms Margaret Harvey (Monash University), Ms Lynda Ah Mat (JCU – Project Manager)

Summary

The Torres Strait Islands are an important environmental and economic resource due to their ecological complexity, biodiversity and relatively pristine marine and island environments that provide many different habitats for highly diverse Indo-Pacific marine fauna.

Given this uniqueness, there are several concerns that relate to the social determinants of health and wellbeing for Torres Strait Islander people that cannot be conflated with those of Aboriginal people such as:

  • Potential loss of culture and weakening of Ailan Kastom
  • Climate change (e.g. rising sea levels in the Torres Strait)
  • Fluctuating economic circumstances and rising cost of living
  • Cross-border concerns (e.g. population growth, infectious and tropical diseases, pests)
  • Poor waste management and pollution
  • Lack of opportunities (e.g. employment).

Several studies have shown the importance of social determinants in understanding and addressing the health gap for Indigenous Australians. However, current research and knowledge about the social determinants of health for Torres Strait Islanders is fragmented and researchers are often working in isolation.

As such, there is currently no coordinated approach to facilitate the translation between researchers, communities and policy makers to improve the social determinants of health and well-being for Torres Strait Islander people (either in the Torres Strait or on the mainland).

Torres Strait Islander leaders, organisations and communities acknowledge the importance of research for effective decision-making and there is now an emergent Torres Strait Islander research workforce keen to find ways to network and support each other collectively, via a Community of Practice to implement KT strategies more systematically to address the social and cultural determinants of health.

This project aims to develop a sustainable model of KT for Torres Strait Islander peoples by implementing and evaluating a multi-disciplinary Community of Practice (CoP) that focuses on the social determinants of health and wellbeing. The project objectives are as follows:

  1. To implement a multi-disciplinary CoP that focuses on the social determinants of health and wellbeing for Torres Strait Islanders
  2. To evaluate how a CoP model can best assist Torres Strait Islander researchers and community members to build research KT capability

To assess effectiveness of CoP activities in raising awareness of research outputs in the community.

Moving Beyond the Front Line

Moving Beyond the Front Line: A 20-year retrospective cohort study of career trajectories from the Indigenous Health Program at The University of Queensland


Funded by: The Lowitja Institute
Administering organisation: The University of Queensland
Investigative team: Dr Chelsea Bond, Condy Canuto, Dr Shannon Springer, Tara Lewis, Associate Professor Jon Willis, Associate Professor Deborah Askew, Associate Professor Mark Brough, Lynell Angus, Dr Bryan Mukandi. 
 

Summary

This research will examine critical success factors in the development of Indigenous leadership across the health system as demonstrated by Indigenous Health Program alumni, who today work in various leadership roles throughout the country.

This retrospective cohort study takes a strengths-based approach which privileges the narrative accounts of Indigenous health professionals who graduated from the Indigenous Health Program (IHP) at The University of Queensland between 1994 and 2005.

This multidisciplinary cohort of approximately 70 health professionals include CEOs of medical services, GPs, clinical specialists, senior policy advisors, program managers and senior academics.

Foregrounding their testimony, thought and experience will illuminate our understanding of Indigenous health workforce leadership across the health system. 

Our Stories, Our Way

Our Stories, Our Way: Cultural Identities and Health and Wellbeing of Indigenous Young People in Diverse School Settings


Funded by: The Lowitja Institute 
Administering organisation: Queensland University of Technology 
Investigative team: Associate Professor Grace Sarra, Ms Marnee Shay, Dr Chelsea Bond 

Summary

This research will explore the importance of cultural identity to the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people being educated in diverse school settings.

It aims to co-construct spaces where the physical/cultural/social/emotional and spiritual wellbeing of young people is supported and their voices centred. 

Subject of Inquiry and Mode of Instruction

Subject of Inquiry and Mode of Instruction: Indigenous Bodies, Indigenous Studies and Cultural Safety in Australian Universities


Funded by: Office of Learning and Teaching
Administering organisation: Queensland University of Technology
Investigative team: Dr Chelsea Bond

Summary

The fellowship seeks to enhance the cultural safety of Indigenous academics who teach Indigenous studies within Australian universities in order to strengthen the quantity and quality of Indigenous educators within the academy.

It will involve the development of collaborative multi-institutional responses to the challenges facing Indigenous academics who are culturally isolated and often subjected to hostile and confronting learning environments.

These strategies will be informed by the experiences of emerging Indigenous academics, and the collective wisdom and expertise of established Indigenous academics and institutions. 

The Watch Trial

The Watch Trial: Non-Inferiority Study to Compare the Efficacy of Antibiotics Versus Watchful Waiting for Acute Otitis Media Without Perforation in Low-Risk Urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children


Funded by: NHMRC (Project Grant) 
Administering Organisation: The University of Western Sydney 
Investigative Team: Prof Jenny Reath, Dr Hasantha Gunasekera, Prof Amanda Leach, Dr Penelope Abbott, A/Prof Deborah Askew, A/Prof Federico Girosi, A/Prof Kelvin Kong, Dr Chelsea Bond, Prof Wendy Hu

Summary

This National Health and Medical Research Council-funded project aims to determine whether a watchful waiting treatment approach is non-inferior to immediate antibiotic treatment in achieving clinical resolution of acute otitis media at day seven in Indigenous children living in geographic areas with a low risk of Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media.

Secondary outcomes of the study will include:

  • comparison of cost effectiveness of the two approaches
  • exploration of attitudes of parents/ carers and health care providers to the two approaches
  • exploration of parents/ carers and health care providers experience of the research process and their views on the translation of the research findings into practice.

Game-changing Educators

Game-changing Educators: Teaching Indigenous health in a culturally safe transformative learning environment


Funded by:The University of Queensland [Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation]
Administering organisation: The University of Queensland
Investigative Team: Dr Chelsea Bond, Lynnell Angus, Dr Leanne Coombe

Summary

The project aims to:

To strengthen Indigenous health teaching innovation through collaborative partnerships and digital teaching tools Provide Indigenous health teaching and learning support through piloting and evaluating professional development of MPH and MD (years one and two) course coordinators, tutors and instructors

Increase effectiveness and sustainability of Indigenous staff resources for the teaching of Indigenous content by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academic staff, clinicians and community lecturers.

Improve both Indigenous and non-Indigenous MPH and MD (years one and two) student experience to enable culturally safe achievement of program graduate competencies related to Indigenous health practice.

Multimedia Technologies

Can multimedia technologies be used to privilege Indigenous voices in the course materials for first-year courses in the Indigenous studies major?


Funded by: Institute of Teaching and Learning Innovation 
Administering organisation: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit
Investigative Team: Dr Carlos Rivera-Santana and Emily Brand

Summary

The project aims to investigate and consult about which multimedia technology can be used to diversify and privilege Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices for first-year courses in the Indigenous Studies major, specifically ABTS1000 Indigenous Australian Issues: Past, Present and Future and ABTS1010 Torres Strait Islander Studies.

Through using Participatory Action Research with students, tutors, course coordinators and invited community lecturers, this project aims to investigate which media formats would be best suited to create course materials for ABTS1010 and ABTS1000, and investigate the use of a multimedia course material.

A model of feasible multimedia course materials will be developed, piloted and feedback will be sought from students, academics and invited community lecturers during the first semester of 2017.

Considering Indigenous research?

Higher Degree by Research programs at UQ include the Doctor of Philosophy, the Master of Philosophy and the Doctor of Biotechnology. HDR students produce new knowledge and expertise that is innovative, relevant and progressive. 

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UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health

The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at UQ brings together Indigenous and health expertise across the university, and works collaboratively with Indigenous community organisations and health providers, on improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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