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

ID: 
14
This submission reflects the views of
Organisation Name: 
National Mental Health Commission
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 National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) endorses the proposed objective with its three components: focus on research that makes a difference; research excellence and integrity; and strong community engagement. The objective is much clearer that previous Road Maps in articulating: the need for health, social and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership not only participation in research; and the need for research to use Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander holistic concepts of mental health, wellbeing and healing. It is fundamental that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities participate not only during the consultation phase of NHMRC's Road Maps but throughout the research process. This approach ensures that research is not simply investigator driven, rather that it focuses on the issues that matter most to the community, and informs health policy priorities or health service delivery. The translation of research is another area requiring greater focus within the mental health sector, with a very considerable gap between the acquisition of new knowledge and it being incorporated in use in treating services. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project is an example of work underpinned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander values with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership that influenced policy decision-makers by its final report -Solutions that work: What the evidence and our people tell us. The report evaluated the effectiveness of existing suicide prevention services and programs with community engagement as fundamental to the methodology. This work informs approaches that governments have committed to in the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.
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 as outlined in the draft Road Map 3 are sufficiently broad to address current priorities while at the same time providing a framework around: 1. strengthening the research capacity in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and medical research sector. Authentic commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in research is required. The NMHC supports research under Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership to influence policies and programs that can bring about real change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The NMHC has recently funded a research project with Lowitja Institute as it recognises the key principles that underpin the Lowitja's approach to research are fundamental to the success of the research project. These are: • Beneficence - to act for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the conduct of our research; • Leadership by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; • Engagement of research end users (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities, policymakers, other potential research users); • Development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research workforce; and • Measurement of impact in improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's health The purpose of this research is to identify the key risk and protective factors as they relate to trauma experiences, and using that knowledge to improve the mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 2. engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 3. research in high priority areas. The NHMRC particularly endorses the theme area - Mental health and social and emotional wellbeing that emerged from the consultation discussions. Of particular importance is research related to suicide prevention, especially for young people, and intergenerational trauma. This theme is included in the category of areas where there is significant burden of disease and/or highest quality of life in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The NHMRC welcomes the Road Map 3's approach to research focussed on the health system and the social and cultural determinants of health as the health system needs to support specialised areas of practice. This focus aligns with the NHMRC 's Contributing Life framework- a whole-of-person, whole-of-system, whole-of-life approach to mental health and wellbeing. A contributing life can mean many things. It can mean a fulfilling life enriched with close connections to family and friends; good health and wellbeing to allow those connections to be enjoyed; having something to do each day that provides meaning and purpose -whether it be a job, supporting others or volunteering; and a home to live in, free from financial stress and uncertainty. In short, it means thriving, not just surviving. Collaboration across all sectors is required to promote mental health and prevent mental illness and suicide - this includes health, housing, human services, income support, justice, education, employment, and the broader system to maximise outcomes and integrate service provision.
Question 5: Are there any other comments you would like to make regarding Road Map 3? Please provide details: 
The NHMRC recognises the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in building better mental health services. The Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan commits to the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration, that emphasises the importance of recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander concepts of social and emotional wellbeing, and mental health and healing, and combining them with clinical perspectives. The Declaration sets out five key principles, with supporting information, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership across all parts of the Australian mental health system. It is also the basis of assessing suicide prevention services and programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. By committing to the Declaration and working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, health and supporting services will be best placed to take a strengths­-based approach. This means acknowledging that stronger connections to culture and Country build stronger individual and collective identities, self-esteem and resilience, which ultimately improves health outcomes.

Page reviewed: 31 July, 2018