NEWS & EVENTS

Nurturing strength-based approaches in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research

28 June 2022

In the past five years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research has changed significantly, says Greg Pratt, Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. With NAIDOC Week approaching, we asked him to share some of the excellent research happening in Queensland.

“Health research for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is now led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for our communities,” Greg said. “No one sets up a research project now without sovereignty and governance in place. That’s a crucial step forward for research and health services.”

Greg is an Aboriginal man and descendant of the Brown family of the Noonucal tribe of the Quandamooka people of Stradbroke Island. Greg started his career as an Indigenous mental health practitioner but now focuses on translational research.

“Professor Frank Gannon was CEO when I started with QIMR Berghofer in 2012. Frank always said research has to make a difference, and I’ve embedded that vision into my work. We’re working on research for the healthcare environment, not just for publication in a scientific journal."

“I am passionate about this and advocating for strength-based approaches to research, workforce development and communication. I believe that’s how we can lead the way to better health and wellbeing for all people.”

“We’ve emphasised partnerships and forged connections with health and hospital services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health networks. As a result, we can share funding and create better products and services that help people live healthier, happier and longer lives.”

“Queensland researchers are setting the pace in some areas of health. For example, we developed Genomic Partnerships – a set of guidelines to help genomic health researchers work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in a way that respects culture.

The project involved working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Queensland with funding from Queensland Health’s investment in Queensland Genomics. Greg explains that before this project, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people weren’t involved in conversations about precision medicine or genomic research. “Now they are starting to share the benefits of this health revolution.”

“Here in Queensland, we have developed health literacy products to support and engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing genomics and personalised medicine. These products have been recognised as some of the best in the world. For example, Your Blood, Your Story, developed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, has reached a broad audience, helping people worldwide understand genomics and genetic testing.

With funding support from Health Translation Queensland, Greg is leading the establishment of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research Network.

“We are building a network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts from across the State in health services, science, academia, policy and the community. It is one of only a few in Australia with such a diverse membership dedicated to identifying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health priorities, research needs and potential solutions.”

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