NHMRC Public Consultations

Skip Navigation and go to Content
Visit NHMRC website

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

This submission reflects the views of
Organisation Name: 
Griffith University
Personal Details
Specific Questions
Question 1A: Is the proposed objective of Road Map 3 relevant?: 
Question 1B: Why/why not? Please provide further comments to support your response to Question 1A.: 
Griffith University supports the proposed objective for the NHMRC Road Map 3. We agree that the wording should be simplified to state ‘to support high quality research that produces strong evidence that it will contribute to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing outcomes”. The use of the wording – high quality research, implies quality research, ethically-sound research and research that results in benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The proposed objective should ensure that there is a Focus on research that makes a difference, Research excellence and integrity and Strong community engagement. Griffith academics wish to highlight that Research Integrity must include the dissemination of results, not just to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities but also to the broader Australian community. This is essential to ensure research is addressing community needs and to ensure there is no duplication.
Question 2A: Are the three priority areas of Road Map 3 accurate?: 
Question 2B: Why/why not? Please provide further comments to support your response to Question 2A: 
Griffith University supports the three priority areas identified in Road Map 3 and sees them as three interrelated areas that will underpin a realistic action plan that will improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing outcomes. Griffith University welcomes the priorities as they highlight the impact of social determinants on health outcomes and provide space for researchers to address research questions across the spectrum of research that will have a positive impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and well-being. As an institution, whose mission is to engage in outstanding scholarship that makes a major contribution to society and to produce ground breaking research, Griffith welcomes the priority to grow and support the next generation of researchers and early career researchers. Nationally, there are 28 Indigenous PhD students; Griffith has 7 of these students. The priority of NHMRC Road Map 3 to Strengthen the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research workforce combined with the new NHMRC Investigator and Ideas grants, the new University funding model (predicated on research income & HDR completions; with double funding being provided for Indigenous PhD students), as well as the Advance Queensland Indigenous PhD scholarships & Postdoctoral Fellowships, are excellent mechanisms to ensure that this goal will be achieved.
Question 3A: Are there any further priority areas to add? Please provide further details: 
Griffith University believes that the three priorities are appropriate for Road Map 3.
Question 4: Is there anything missing from Road Map 3? Please provide further details: 
Feedback from Griffith academics requests greater clarity around what qualifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health research. NHMRC Funding rules currently state that at least 20% of the research effort and/or capacity building must relate to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health. Further, an academic asked, would it not be better to capture all research that is relevant to Indigenous Health and add it to the knowledge base?
Question 5: Are there any other comments you would like to make regarding Road Map 3? Please provide details: 
Feedback from Griffith University raised the following questions and comments about Road Map 3. 1. Is there a need for an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander definition of health? Who should be involved in defining it? 2. Road Map 3 recognises the need for emphasis on authentic engagement & cultural understanding –what will actually be done? 3. There should be greater recognition of the impact of social determinants of health (such as poverty, housing & education) on health outcomes. While this should come through authentic community engagement, it may useful to emphasise the importance of their consideration. 4. There needs to be explicit recognition of the issues relating to cultural competence, cultural safety and racism in the health system, to support positive progression 5. There should be overt recognition of specific diseases that are almost exclusive to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people and/or personalized approaches to health care. This should include both short and long term research programs, incorporating basic research as well as translational research. 6. It is critical to ensure that oral health and disease get adequate emphasis in an holistic approach. Dental/oral health matters are usually ignored, yet tooth decay in children is the commonest reason for medivac from remote communities. The interplay between oral and "general" diseases and their impacts is significant: ranging from pain, loss of schooling and work, to severe infections. Oral and other head and neck malignancies are about twice the national average in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 7. A suggestion has been made to emphasise learnings from international research within the local (domestic) context, such that when conducting Intervention research in areas where there is a significant burden of disease due consideration is also given to relevant successful research conducted in international settings. 8. Enhanced collaboration and communication is central to success at all levels and as a non-Aboriginal researcher it can be difficult to instigate connections with stake-holders. To this end it would be wonderful if the NHMRC could instigate additional mechanisms to strengthen and establish connections with stakeholders in the sector, particularly Aboriginal Mentees and Aboriginal community members (funding schemes or connection facilitation). This would help us contribute to a number of aspects of the Road map. 9. Broader awareness of Road Map 3 in the wider health and medical research community will facilitate communication and collaboration to achieve sector objectives.

Page reviewed: 31 July, 2018