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Draft Road Map 3: A Strategic Framework for Improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health through Research submission

ID: 
2
This submission reflects the views of
Organisation Name: 
Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA)
Personal Details
Specific Questions
Question 1A: Is the proposed objective of Road Map 3 relevant?: 
Agree
Question 1B: Why/why not? Please provide further comments to support your response to Question 1A.: 
The listed objective of Road Map 3 is a relevant strategic priority for NHMRC, but some key factors to achieving this need to be better reflected in the ‘interrelated components’ and priority areas that immediately follow. In particular, AIDA would like to see knowledge translation specified within the interrelated components as it is a vital component of effective, ethical research and community engagement. For research to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people it needs to be made accessible to communities at a local level. This will support evidenced based and community led actions and initiatives.
Question 2A: Are the three priority areas of Road Map 3 accurate?: 
Agree
Question 2B: Why/why not? Please provide further comments to support your response to Question 2A: 
The three priorities areas of strengthening the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research workforce, engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and supporting research in high priority areas are appropriate. As a strategic framework, engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities should also recognise the need to enable and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to engage with research. This should also include recognition of the validity and benefits to research of Indigenous ways of knowing. AIDA would suggest referencing Keeping research on track II – currently under review – as an appropriate resource to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to participate in ethical research. The three research priorities identified under Section 4.3 of Road Map 3 are also accurate in that they cover the areas likely to provide the largest gains to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and therefore provide best value for the allocation of funding and resources. As these three priority are highly interrelated, it may be worth considering how they are presented to acknowledge that. For example, if a disease is almost exclusively effecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people then there is also a high differential quality of life and, quite likely, a social determinant of health at play. This will be of significance if the three priority areas are to be used for research funding allocation and monitoring and evaluation purposes. Finally, AIDA recommends that the research priority area ‘research that is focused on the health system and the social and cultural determinants of health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities’ be used to promote strengths-based approaches in research.
Question 3A: Are there any further priority areas to add? Please provide further details: 
Noting the comments above, AIDA believes the three priority areas are sufficient to capture the scope of research priorities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
Question 4: Is there anything missing from Road Map 3? Please provide further details: 
Road Map 3 does not mention intellectual property considerations, such as shared IP and data sovereignty for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, which may be included under dot point three of section 4.2 Engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Question 5: Are there any other comments you would like to make regarding Road Map 3? Please provide details: 
AIDA supports Road Map 3 and the ongoing, expanded role of the Principle Committee Indigenous Caucus (PCIC). It is important that these strategic aims are supported through definitive actions, such as the below example to help ensure appropriate community consultation, provided in the draft action plan: “Explore opportunities to extend research project timeframes and the level of investment provided to researchers working on research projects with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities” AIDA believes that to achieve the goal of improved health, social and wellbeing outcomes, greater emphasis needs to placed upon Indigenous-led research. As noted in the 2012 AIATSIS Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies: It should also be recognised that there is no sharp distinction between researchers and Indigenous people. Indigenous people are also researchers, and all participants must be regarded as equal participants in research engagement (AIATSIS p 3). This might include an objective of the Road Map, under priority area 2, to enable communities to directly engage/commission research relevant to them via the NHMRC. While Targeted Calls for Research are identified as one method for this to occur, this still requires engagement out from NHMRC to researchers. Establishing a mechanism through which communities can directly commission research from a suitable researcher/research organisation may be beneficial.

Page reviewed: 31 July, 2018