Caring for community: Research collaboration between the University of Wollongong and the Illawarra Koori Men’s Support Group

Thursday, 23 March 2017
Prof Kathleen Clapman
Dr Scott Winch

A multi-disciplinary coalition of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers from the University of Wollongong worked collaboratively with Aboriginal community partners as part of the university’s Global Challenge initiative into ‘Transforming Lives and Regions’. Using community based participatory action processes the research focused on the importance of networks and partnerships and involved an in-depth case study of one organisation — the Illawarra Koori Men’s Support Group (IKMSG). 

Mixed methods data was collected over 12 months through an online survey, stakeholder interviews and focus group discussions. Qualitative data was analysed using NVivo; a social network analysis of the survey data was undertaken.

Twenty-two surveys, 21 interviews and three focus group discussions were completed. The study described and identified strong support for the IKMSG’s — health, justice, housing and educational and cultural services which address the health and wellbeing needs of Aboriginal people in the Illawarra region and link them to other services in the region. 

The research highlights the vital role of Indigenous community organisations in the health and wellbeing of contemporary Indigenous Australians and makes recommendations for ongoing support. The research collaboration requires institutional support to sustain collaboration and build capacity for Aboriginal community controlled research.