First Nations-led projects funded for COVID-19 research

The Paul Ramsay Foundation committed $2million to support APPRISE COVID-19 research with First Nations peoples. Through a unique funding allocation process led by First Nations researchers, we are pleased to announce the following projects have been selected for funding.

Developing a culturally responsive trauma-informed public health emergency response framework for First Nations families and communities during COVID-19

Lead investigator: Associate Professor Catherine Chamberlain – La Trobe University, Vic

This project aims to use our knowledge of trauma to inform best-practice responses to COVID-19.

While the research will draw on data from First Nations people from around Australia, it will also investigate how increased fear and anxiety as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may compound distress relating to pre-existing trauma in the general population.

Read more about this project

Preventing COVID transmission by equipping frail dialysis patients with culturally appropriate COVID-safe practices to avoid unplanned hospitalisations in the Top End

Lead investigators: Associate Professor Jaquelyne Hughes; Ms Onika Paolucci, Menzies School of Health Research, NT

The project will:

  • describe how staff and patients work together to achieve COVID-safe practices to use at home and at dialysis, and learn from clients about other ways they live strong and COVID-safe
  • improve detection of frailty and assess change in frailty in the first few months after starting dialysis
  • count days spent in health care at the Royal Darwin Hospital campus and dialysis units in the first year after starting dialysis.

Read more about this project

Using systems thinking to better understand risks and protective factors at play for urban Indigenous peoples during COVID-19

Lead investigator: Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, University of Queensland, Qld

This project aims to improve Indigenous health and well-being using a Systems Perspective. COVID-19 is a risk to any community; however urban Indigenous communities are particularly vulnerable because of the characteristics of the social systems that support their health. The project will use a systems-thinking approach to uncover an operational view of the dynamics of this complex system. It will bring together multidisciplinary stakeholders from relevant disciplines including health and community organisations (including Hospital and Health Services’s and Community Controlled Health Centres), education and communication representatives, housing, and research representatives.

Three professionally facilitated workshops will deliver a holistic picture and systems maps showing both high-level cause-and-effect factors as well as actionable levers and unintended consequences. It is intended that the outputs will provide insights that assist targeted policymaking and will serve as a basis for Indigenous communities around Australia to address socio-cultural vulnerabilities and risk factors in the face of pandemics.

Study aims include:

  • to understand urban indigenous social systems and how they expose, mitigate, or protect urban indigenous communities during pandemics
  • to formally develop a causal understanding of this system
  • to develop a list of policy-oriented action steps
  • to translate the outcomes to other indigenous communities
  • to promote intersectoral action to tackle the social determinants of health that affect COVID-19 response and prevention.

A culturally specific overcrowding guideline for COVID-19 pandemic planning, response and recovery in remote Kimberley communities

Lead investigator: Mr Ray Christophers – Nirrumbuk, WA

The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic acknowledged overcrowding as a social determinant exacerbating risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Culturally appropriate ways to think about, manage and address housing occupancy and its health consequences are essential. Nirrumbuk Environmental Health & Services is an Aboriginal community-controlled service with many decades’ experience in serving remote communities of the Kimberley.

This mixed-methods project will ensure Aboriginal experience directly determines the conceptualisation, validation and ongoing use of a culturally specific guideline to address remote housing occupancy, overcrowding and health preventive practices in ongoing COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery. In three sites in the Kimberley, Nirrumbuk Environmental Health & Services will consult with community to initiate discussions about lived experience and overcrowding. By combining qualitative and quantitative methods, a Guideline with measurement modules will be produced. Kimberley-wide results will be shared and this Guideline disseminated for local use in pandemic planning.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic

Lead investigator: Dr Margaret Raven, Professor Ilan Katz, University of New South Wales, NSW

TeleHealth use in Cape York Communities – in response to COVID-19 travel restrictions

Lead investigator: Professor Yvonne Cadet-James, Apunipima Cape York Health Council, QLD

This project aims to develop a framework for an effective, efficient and cost-effective Telehealth Service in Cape York Communities, not only for future pandemics but for usual day to day patient care.

This is an Indigenous-led project in collaboration with communities in Cape York. Qualitative data will be gained from community members and Apunipima staff regarding their experience with Telehealth. Questions will focus on community member and staff member confidence in using Telehealth, type of consultations, privacy and confidentiality, cultural considerations, facilities and equipment, connectivity and staff training. A cost analysis will be conducted to identify total costs of infrastructure and training for an effective working system in Cape York Communities. Once the framework is developed, Apunipima will collaborate with communities regarding the outcome and recommendations.

First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response: Harnessing the evidence from an urban First Nations health ecosystem to inform ongoing response, recovery and health system adaptation

Lead investigator: Professor James Ward, Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), Qld

Pandemic health messaging for Indigenous peoples during COVID-19

Lead investigator: Mr Shea Spierings, University of Queensland, Qld

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to health services in an urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care service

Lead investigator: Professor Noel Hayman, University of Queensland, QLD

Revisiting the ‘Gambling Bug’ during COVID isolation: Developing and evaluating a holistic Aboriginal public health awareness strategy to improve service access and wellbeing in a rural and urban Australian setting

Lead investigators: Dr Paul Saunders  and Professor Aunty Kerrie Doyle, School of Medicine and the Translational Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, NSW

The project aims to develop a public health strategy to increase awareness around problem gambling and its dissociation with Indigenous culture. The project will look to develop and evaluate a community-driven public health intervention based on the narratives of those with problem gambling behaviours within Indigenous communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is planned to operate in one regional and one urban setting within New South Wales, providing an insight into the impacts of COVID-19 on problem gambling for Indigenous communities in a range of environments. The research will employ an Indigenist approach, considering the complex socio-cultural factors contributing to the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in problem gambling statistics.

The experiences of using telehealth in rural and regional Victorian ACCOs during COVID-19: perspectives from health service managers, clinic staff and patients

Lead investigator: Mr Dallas Widdicombe, Bendigo & District Aboriginal Co-operative (VIC)


Read more about the $2 million committed by the Paul Ramsay Foundation to support COVID-19 research with First Nations peoples.