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Olga Gerloff

UNSW Sydney’s Dr Aryati Yashadhana and Dr Julieann Coombes have been awarded over $3 million in federal government funding to improve the health outcomes of Indigenous communities.

The funding has been provided through the Indigenous Health Research Fund, an 11-year, $160 million program from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) that supports First Nations-led research to tackle health issues facing Aboriginal people and help close the health and mortality gap. In total 26 Indigenous-led research projects will share $30.8 million in funding.

UNSW Professor Adrienne Torda, Acting Dean of Medicine & Health, applauded the academics on receiving grants in this round of MRFF funding.

“I’m proud of my colleagues who have received MRFF funding for research which will improve the lives of indigenous people and their communities. The projects are focused on improving the cultural health, social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of these projects,” Prof. Torda said.

“These grants will provide a major boost to First Nations health research, enabling us to find solutions that make a meaningful difference because they are tailored to the needs of First Nations communities – in cities, towns and the bush,” federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler said.

Boosting the cultural health of Aboriginal peoples in NSW

Dr Aryati Yashadhana from the School of Population Health at UNSW Medicine & Health has received $2.90 million for Gaawaadhi Gadudha, a trial and evaluation of an Aboriginal cultural health and traditional healing program that will be developed under the leadership of Yuwaalaraay, Gamilaraay, and Yuin-Djiringanj cultural knowledge holders.

“Evidence shows that engaging in culture on Country is crucial to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal peoples, but access remains an issue,” Dr Yashadhana said.

“This grant provides a huge boost to our existing collaborative work in Aboriginal cultural health and will support our team to develop a program that will produce tangible impact for community and Country. It also sets new standards in academic grant funding, as we are proud to say that the cultural knowledge holders who govern the ‘Gaawaadhi Gadudha’ work are also chief investigators on the team.”

Gaawaadhi Gadudha

Dr Aryati Yashadhana has been awarded funding for Gaawaadhi Gadudha, a trial of an Aboriginal cultural health and traditional healing program. Photo: UNSW Sydney.

Contemporary Indigenous dance to improve wellbeing

Dr Julieann Coombes from the Guunu-maana (Heal) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program at The George Institute for Global Health and UNSW Medicine & Health has received $978,478 for a project that improves the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children through contemporary Indigenous dance.

“Cultural dance has been an important part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures for centuries. It is a way to connect people to their ancestors, land, and culture,” Dr Coombes said.

“In addition, multiple studies have shown that dance can improve cardiovascular fitness and bone health of children and young people and contribute to preventing or reducing obesity.”

The MRFF helps Australia’s medical researchers discover new ways to diagnose, treat and care for people with a variety of health conditions. They also support early and mid-career researchers and give more Australians access to clinical trials. Read more about the latest announcements.