Innovative First Nations pandemic preparedness network launches

January 16, 2024

Building on successful First Nations-led research conducted during the COVID pandemic, the First Nations Pandemic Research Preparedness Network (FIRST) has launched.

Now the immediate COVID response has passed, FIRST is a more permanent network bringing First Nations research expertise together to lead and advocate for a strong overall health system that recognises the overlap of pandemic risk and disadvantage and prepares for future infectious disease emergencies.

The network is led by First Nations people to ensure a First Nations perspective on research and infectious disease preparedness with research projects, preparedness planning, advocacy and relationships with decision-making bodies.

FIRST was officially launched at the APPRISE annual meeting late 2023 and was attended by some of the FIRST Governance Group members (see image), APPRISE researchers and Professor Paul Kelly, Chief Medical Officer of Australia.

Members of the FIRST Governance Group were appointed after an Australia-wide call, with the group including diverse First Nations researchers and public health practitioners from around the country. It is co-chaired by Euahlayi woman, Ms Kristy Crooks (Hunter New England Local Health District, NSW Health).

“This new network was created after our successful First Nations-led COVID pandemic work, which was innovative in its unique funding allocation process led and governed by First Nations researchers. We are so excited to launch the FIRST network, the first of its type in Australia,” Ms Crooks said.

Read more about FIRST

Read more about First Nations-led COVID pandemic research

FIRST Governance Group members attending the launch. From left to right: Ms Alison Barnes, Mr Damian Rigney, Ms Antoinette White, Ms Kristy Crooks, Mr Robert Monaghan, Ms Katrina Clark and meeting observer Ms Charlee Law

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