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$5.6 million investment in remote community medical research

The Federal Government has announced a $5.6 million medical research investment focussing on healthy ageing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The newly funded research will aim to address the need for culturally-informed research to improve the health of Aboriginal Elders and Torres Strait Islander people. [Source: Shutterstock]
The newly funded research will aim to address the need for culturally-informed research to improve the health of Aboriginal Elders and Torres Strait Islander people. [Source: Shutterstock]

The research will aim to address the need for culturally-informed research to improve the health and experiences of Aboriginal Elders and Torres Strait Islander people.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have poorer health outcomes and higher rates of disability than non-Indigenous Australians of the same age, which is compounded with poor aged care and health services in remote areas of the country.

Chronic and complex conditions are more prevalent in Indigenous people which leads to a poorer quality of life and a shorter life expectancy.

The recent investment coincides with National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week, as well as the release of two Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reports.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) will be providing funding to support six research projects.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Mr Richard Colbeck, was happy to hear more funding will be provided to vulnerable Aboriginal Elders in remote communities.

Mr Colbeck says, “Senior Australians are vital contributors to their communities and our Government is committed to providing them with the care they need in places where they have lived, worked and raised a family.

“This is particularly important for older Indigenous Australians in terms of maintaining connections to country and preserving culture for future generations.

“People’s expectations of aged care facilities have also changed over time, and our Government is responding with the Aged Care Regional, Rural and Remote Infrastructure Grant program which is delivering $40 million in upgrades in the latest round.”

Mr Colbeck adds that the Government is providing more than $60 million per year to deliver culturally safe aged care services through the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care (NATSIFAC) Program.

The newly funded research will look into the best approaches to prevention, early intervention and treatment of health conditions of great concern in ageing Indigenous communities.

The AIHW released data recently for the 2017-18 period showed of the198 organisations providing primary health services to nearly 483,000 clients, around 81 percent of clients were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The report showed an improvement in health in remote areas, including a 5.2 percent increase in influenza immunisations for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease clients, a 3.2 percent increase in Type 2 diabetes influenza immunisations and a 3.5 percent decrease in cardiovascular risk.

The report does, however, highlight an increase in reported service gaps in mental health services.

The NHMRC projects and grant recipients include:

  • Associate Professor Kim Delbaere from the University of New South Wales - $990,165.20 for Standing Tall with our Mob: A holistic approach towards active and healthy ageing

  • Associate Professor Edward Strivens from James Cook University - $1,100,540 for A framework for healthy ageing in the Torres Strait

  • Professor David Currow from The Sax Institute - $1,167,301.20 for Exploring Healthy Ageing amongst Aboriginal Australians through the window of cancer

  • Professor Leon Flicker from the University of Western Australia - $931,119.40 for Defining and predicting Healthy Ageing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Populations (HATS)

  • Professor Alex Brown from the University of South Australia - $741,947.30 for Designing Indigenous aged care with a ‘whole of community’ perspective

  • Professor Robert Sanson-Fisher from The University of Newcastle - $745,056.50 for Improving Implementation of Health Assessments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients in mainstream practice: A cluster randomised controlled trial

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