[ASC-media] Media release: Aboriginal researchers build a better future

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Thu May 16 01:55:38 CEST 2013

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Aboriginal researchers build a better future

May 16, 2013 – for immediate release

Ninety Aboriginal Community Researchers working in settlements across remote Australia are hard at work building a more prosperous, healthier and happier future for their people.

Thanks to these researchers, governments are starting to receive first-hand, accurate information on the situation, needs and preferences of remote communities on which to build sound policies and achieve better health, education and economic outcomes, the Chairman of Ninti One, Dr Tom Calma, said yesterday.

Speaking to the CRC Association annual conference in Melbourne today Dr Calma said Ninti One’s Aboriginal Community Research program was breaking new ground in the delivery of tailored, innovative and highly relevant research and community development outcomes in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“We now have over 90 trained local Aboriginal researchers in teams who conduct participatory action research (PAR) in their own communities across remote Australia, providing a resource for the delivery of a variety of education, health and governance projects,” he said.

“They can deliver better quality research outcomes than most external researchers because of their unique location and local knowledge.

“This leads to collection of better information, which can translate into more efficient services, more appropriate infrastructure and the building of community capacity.

In the context of Closing the Gap on Aboriginal health issues, Dr Calma said that one of the keys was strong community input and the community researchers could help supply that.

As an example of their work he said the researchers were currently undertaking  broad research into people’s views and concerns about smoking with the aim of reducing tobacco use in the Ntaria community in the Northern Territory. A number of promising ideas, suggestions and views had so far emerged from the work.

“Our researchers have also been commissioned to map the Aboriginal patient experience in eye and vision care in the NT and Western NSW. The aim of this work is to improve the eye care journey of patients and the delivery of eye services to remote settlements,” he says.

Ninti One has recently partnered with the Vision CRC to undertake the testing and on the ground applications of the Eye Q in remote Australia. This is an innovative ophthalmic high resolution camera for early detection of diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

“The unique combination of Aboriginal Community Researchers matched with the expertise of Ninti One Limited in delivering community engagement projects across remote Australia represents a new model for service delivery,” Dr Calma says. “Its wider impacts include positive benefits to health and wellbeing, education, economic development, and increased participation in cultural maintenance and transmission.”

In a separate discussion as incoming Chancellor of the University of Canberra, Dr Calma said greater numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders should reach senior leadership positions in Australian universities and be involved in leading academic research.

Dr Calma said Indigenous university enrolment rates had increased in recent years. "Around the nation we are seeing a lot more Indigenous people complete Year 12 but they’ve got to also see university as an option," he said.

"One of the biggest challenges within the university sector is to get people to do higher degrees, particularly in research, so they can become academics in the future." 

The CRC REP is recruiting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from their partner organisations to participate in their research projects. 

More information:
Dr Tom Calma, Chair, Ninti One, ph +61 ( 0)429 121 942
Jan Ferguson, Managing Director, Ninti One Ltd,+61 (0)401 719 882
Linda Cooper, Communications Manager, +61 (0)419 331 119
linda.cooper at nintione.com.au


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