Health from the Grass Roots: Aboriginal health priorities project, Northern Rivers NSW

Tuesday, 2 July 2019
Dr Veronica Matthews
Emma Walke

Despite recent modest improvements, concern remains that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been over-researched without corresponding health improvements. The Health from the Grass Roots project in northern NSW aims to centralise Indigenous perspectives on health and foster community ownership and self-determination in guiding what topics health researchers investigate in partnership with community. 
Aboriginal staff at the University Centre for Rural Health in Lismore have initiated this ‘bottom up’ process to engage the Bundjalung/ Yaegl communities where the University operates. The project works with these Aboriginal communities to document holistic Indigenous perspectives on health issues and formulate local research plans for implementation. 
Project partners represent local health services and research sectors and the project is overseen by an Indigenous community based health advisory council. The project aims to create partnerships between health services and the community to develop and implement pilot research projects that address priority health issues and forge new ways of program delivery. 
Whilst results are yet to be finalised, Health from the Grass Roots will promote a process of change, building on the limited evidence about how to transform and strengthen systems and community capacity to participate in and lead health research for the benefit of the region’s Indigenous people.