Tag Archives: Lowitja Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research

Lowitja CRC

Community driven health research

Lowitja Institute CRC Board and CEO, L-R: Mr Romlie Mokak (CEO), Professor Peter Buckskin, Ms June Oscar AO, Ms Pat Anderson AO (Chair), Mr Selwyn Button and Mr Ali Drummond.

Since 2014, with our 22 Participants, we have achieved demonstrable benefit for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We have become a point of collaboration and have developed strong national and international networks.

We have provided leadership in the promotion of a definition of value that incorporates what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples hold to be true and intrinsically of value. The translation of those values into the research agenda enables a questioning of the status quo, privileges Indigenous knowledges, and ensures a new, sustainable and more empowering perspective for looking at issues that impact on the health and wellbeing of Australia’s First Peoples.

We are particularly proud that 68 per cent of our projects are led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers and that our projects build in dynamic knowledge translation activities.

We have supported innovative research projects in areas including early childhood development, young men’s health and wellbeing, the cultural determinants of health, the impact of negative discourse and strength-based alternatives. We  convened for the first time in Australia an expert roundtable on disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, through which we identified critical areas of research.

We are proud of our achievements since we began under the CRC Programme. The Lowitja Institute will continue to fulfil the vision of Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue AC CBE DSG to be a courageous organisation committed to social justice and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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This article was published in KnowHow Issue 9.

Lowitja Institute

Reaching out to our Indigenous family across the world

The purpose of the Lowitja Institute Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health CRC is to value the health and wellbeing of Australia’s First Peoples. As members of a global Indigenous family, we extend that purpose to our brothers and sisters across the world.

With that in mind, two 2016 activities were key achievements: a collaboration with The Lancet – published in April by the prestigious medical journal under the title ‘Indigenous and Tribal peoples’ health (The Lancet–Lowitja Institute Global Collaboration): a population study’ – and our first international Indigenous health and wellbeing conference.

The collaboration established a clear picture of Indigenous and
Tribal health relative to benchmark populations. It included data on 28 Indigenous populations from 23 countries covering approximately half the world’s 300 million Indigenous people.

What was critical – and unique to this study – was the participation of 65 contributors who were able to identify, at country level, the best-quality data available. Contributors came from all the major global regions: Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Pacific and Arctic Circle.

These regions of the world were also represented in our November conference when, underpinned by a strong cultural and scientific framework, more than 700 delegates met to celebrate, share and strengthen Indigenous knowledges.

Over three days, the program included keynote addresses by national and international experts, sessions arranged around the themes of identity, knowledge and strength, and a conference statement asserting that Indigenous peoples across the world have the right to self-determination, which, in turn underpins the right to health.

Through this work, the Lowitja Institute CRC supports networks of knowledge and collaboration, engages with the 2030 Sustainability Goals to which Australia is a signatory, and connects us to the
wider international community.

Smoking ceremony conducted by Wurunjeri Elder Aunty Joy Wandin Murphy at the Lowitja Institute CRC launch in October 2014, part of Closing the Gap

Closing the gap

Romlie Mokak, CEO of the Lowitja Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, is a man with a vision.

“We’ve got a clear agenda for the future and it’s for just 15 years ahead: 2030. This agenda has been agreed upon by governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership as part of the ‘Close the Gap’ campaign,” said Mokak.

The aim is to eliminate the difference in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians by 2030. It’s a big ambition that will take a lot of work.

“It’s essential that solutions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing come from the people themselves,” he said. A vital step is explicit recognition of Indigenous people in the Australian Constitution, supported by the Recognise Health coalition launched by the Lowitja Institute in March 2015.

“If we hit the target, then by 2040 we will have had 10 years with no gap. We will have a high quality, accessible health system that is culturally appropriate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Since 1997, the Lowitja Institute and its predecessor CRCs have led a substantial reform agenda in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research by working with communities, researchers and policymakers. In partnership with 21 participants, the CRC is poised to make a substantial contribution to the goals for 2030 and towards a 2040 that sees Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation and leadership in all walks of Australian life.

— Clare Pain

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Feature image: Smoking ceremony conducted by Wurunjeri Elder Aunty Joy Wandin Murphy at the Lowitja Institute CRC launch in October 2014.