Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are the First peoples of Australia and have a strong connection to their Land and culture.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) peoples have a wholistic approach to health that includes their physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Indigenous people’s culture and community plays a central role in their wellbeing.
Colonisation has not only impacted the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people, but also economically and socially through dispossession of Land, exposure to new diseases and involvement in often violent conflict.
For decades, national reports and peer review studies have reported the higher rates of chronic and infectious diseases in Indigenous compared with non-Indigenous people. Many programs have been developed and trialed to reduce these disparities with some success. In recent years Indigenous organisations have created protocols and ethics regarding how research should be developed, implemented, and interpreted with Indigenous communities. These have been helpful to develop programs that meet the needs of Indigenous communities, that are Indigenous led, and ensure communities are left with a program or products that meets their needs.
The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute) vision is to improve health through discovery research and prevention, treatment and cure of infectious diseases. The Doherty aims to play an increasingly meaningful role in collaborating with Indigenous organisations, communities and peoples in designing and delivering programs that meet their needs.
We are enthusiastic to train the next generation of Indigenous researchers specialising in Infection and Immunity. Together with Indigenous organisations, communities, and people we can develop programs that lead to improvements in health.
The Doherty Institute is committed to following best practices:
- We will always be respectful of the history and context of the communities with whom we work
- We will continue to build on our existing memorandum of understanding with the Menzies School of Health Research and Miwatj Health Aboriginal Coorporation
- We will undertake research 'with' rather than 'on' communities, seeking to conduct community-driven research
- We will strive to ensure our research translates into clear and immediate benefits not just a contribution to the ‘body of knowledge’
- We will listen to the health needs of communities to ensure we're undertaking research that counts and is needs based
In 2021, the Doherty Institute’s Indigenous Cross-cutting Discipline conducted a mapping exercise to summarise the research we currently develop with a range of Indigenous people and communities. In December 2021, we released the publication, Indigenous research activities at the Doherty Institute. Overall our research includes $7.7 million in funding and includes projects covering hepatitis B, syphilis, Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1), and nutrition and exercise.
The Doherty Institute collaborates with institutions and communities to achieve common goals and to improve health outcomes. The Indigenous health projects include collaborations between the Doherty Institute and the following institutions and organisations:
- Menzies School of Health Research
- Monash University
- Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
- Miwatj Health Aboriginal Coorporation
- Marthakal Homelands Health Service
- Royal Melbourne Hospital
- University of Queensland
- Brisbane and Gallipoli Medical Research Institute
- Greenslopes Private Hospital, Queensland
- Nirrumbuk Environmental and Health Services
- University of New South Wales
- Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Queensland
- Western Sydney University
- Bendigo and District Health Co-operative, Victoria
- University of Adelaide
- St Vincent Hospital, Sydney
- Indigenous Epidemiology and Health Unit, University of Melbourne
- Centre for Indigenous Health Equity, University of Melbourne
- Well Living House, St Michaels Hospital, Toronto, Canada
- First Nations Health Authority, Vancouver, Canada
In 2022, the Doherty Institute aims to expand collaborations and work with Indigenous people and communities to address the needs of Indigenous communities.
Yiaga Ngarnga Scholarship for Infection and Immunity
The Yiaga Ngarnga Scholarship for Infection and Immunity was made possible through a donation from the Lionel Gell Foundation to the Doherty Institute and with support from the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne.
The scholarship supports postgraduate research for an Indigenous person with demonstrated excellence in the area of immunology or infectious diseases research. The individual will need to be approved as a full-time candidate for graduate research degrees in the Schools of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Melbourne.