Context: Development of an Aboriginal Health Research Strategy within the Hunter, New England and Central Coast Regions
In 2021 a group of Aboriginal leaders in the Hunter, New England and Central Coast regions agreed to collaborate to change the way that Health Research about Aboriginal people is conducted within the regions. A working group was formed to guide this work, and the development of an Aboriginal Health Research Strategy for the Hunter, New England and Central Coast Regions.
The Working Group is Indigenous-led and governed. The group consists only of Aboriginal representatives from Awabakal Aboriginal Medical Service, Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services, the University of Newcastle, Hunter Medical Research Institute, and Hunter New England Health District.
The Institute of Collaborative Race Research (ICRR 2021) was commissioned by the Working Group and the University of Newcastle to guide the development of a Strategy for the region. The study, From Strength to Sovereignty, undertaken by Institute for Collaborative Race Research involved community consultation and desk-based research. This has provided guidance for the Working Group regarding challenges felt within the regions’ Aboriginal Communities and Community Organisations as well as the values that Aboriginal people would like to see reflected in a strategy going forward.
“Over the past several decades, research investments in Indigenous health have moved from silence to a focus on Indigenous peoples as subjects of research. In more recent years, deficit based descriptive accounts of Indigenous sickness have in turn been challenged by the ‘strength-based’ approach.
This approach rightly focuses on the capacity of Indigenous communities to achieve better health. While these moves from silence to strength are significant, the consultations undertaken in the Hunter, Central Coast and New England regions strongly suggest that it is time for a new Indigenous health research paradigm to emerge - one that shifts from strength to sovereignty.” From Strength to Sovereignty, Institute for Collaborative Race Research (2021).
As such the Indigenous Health Research Strategy for the Hunter, New England and Central Coast Regions aims to provide a coordinated approach to health research and give Aboriginal people ownership of health research within the regions. This will ensure that health benefits promised by researchers are implemented back into our communities, leading to better health outcomes. This way our mob will have a say on who, what and where research is conducted, how we use and store it. This Strategy is currently under development and expected to be released in early 2023.