Diabetes is a BIG problem in our communities.

It affects our young people through to our elderly people. Some Aboriginal people think diabetes is normal, but it doesn’t need to be.

By getting a better understanding of the things that raise the chances of getting Type 2 diabetes and the problems it causes, it will help us find better ways of stopping the problem. Find our more on our Facebook page.

Overcoming the health disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represents one of Australia’s great challenges. Only through a tangible commitment of time, energy, resources, leadership and collaborative partnership can we hope to make a difference. Research can and should have a role in defining a better way forward for all Australians. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community has called for reform in the way Aboriginal Health Research is conducted.

Intervening on social and health services’ practice to address social determinants of Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing.  

The Aboriginal Eye Health Care Project.

We seek to co-design, implement and evaluate an eye healthcare strategy action plan, that considers the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within an urban, regional and remote site in South Australia. Our project aims to respond to the key health challenge of ‘ending avoidable blindness’ through scientific advancement on how to: 1) target high-risk groups that would benefit from community-based interventions, 2) tailor eye care delivery to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at greatest risk, 3) increase diabetic retinopathy screening and treatment coverage rates, and 4) strengthen workforce and service system capabilities in eye healthcare.

Understanding risk and protective factors for macular disease among Aboriginal Australians.

Diabetes can damage the small blood vessels of the eye, causing leakage of fluid at the macular, the part of the eye where you get the most detailed vision from. Aboriginal Australians experience high rates of this macula leaking and swelling, much higher than non-Aboriginal people. So far, we do not understand why this is, and what factors or causes are driving this. This study investigates all aspects of health and diabetes, including the social, clinical, and medical. We also plan to follow people with diabetes for four-to-five years to see if we can predict based on what we collect who will go on to suffer from blindness, and who will not. Ultimately, these findings of new factors and their ability to tell us who will do well (or poorly) is important to initiate steps in reducing the human and societal costs of blindness.

The South Australian Aboriginal Chronic Disease Consortium (the Consortium) has been established to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal South Australians by working to prevent and detect early heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes as well as support those who are living with these chronic diseases. The Consortium convenes a comprehensive network of health systems organisations with responsibility for Aboriginal health care and chronic disease prevention and management including health researchers, policy makers, system planners, clinicians, service providers, and community to drive a collective approach to addressing the challenges in the State’s health systems. These approaches are based on available and emerging evidence and aligned with priorities identified by Aboriginal community and health experts.

The program aims to reduce diabetes-related foot complications, including amputations, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in South Australia (SA), the Northern Territory (NT, incl. the Top End and Central Australia), northern Western Australia (WA) and Far North Queensland (FNQ). It will address risk factors and health outcomes by implementing evidence-based initiatives that seek to improve the cultural safety, quality, accessibility and structural factors (governance, infrastructure, partnership and workforce) of available care. The program covers the continuum of care from prevention and management of diabetes-related foot complications, acute care to rehabilitation for people with amputations. It further focusses on a range of enabling strategies, including through actively addressing cultural considerations, community learning and awareness, workforce strategies and service accessibility.

The Cultural Pathways Program works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to identify their individual or collective social and emotional wellbeing needs (e.g. transport, housing, healthcare), set goals and make plans to connect to critical services available within the community.

Expressions of interest are now open to join our National Governance group!

The Governance group will play a central role in the development and translation of the Roadmap, working alongside the project team and key stakeholders to ensure actions are meaningful, responsive and sustainable. The group will include Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander young people (from each state/territory) and be supported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and the project team. Members of the Governance group will receive financial reimbursement for their time and have access to professional development opportunities.

If you, or a young persons you know, has a passion for health and wellbeing and would like to join our National Governance group please download and complete the Expression of Interest application form below!

DOWNLOAD: Expression of Interest Form (PDF 278 KB)

Please forward all completed applications to seth.westhead@sahmri.com


Developing a Roadmap

The Adolescent Health and Wellbeing Program is partnering with young people to develop the first national Roadmap to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescent health. This Roadmap will identify the health needs and priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and define evidence-based actions to address these needs.

We strongly believe that young people must be central to any effort to improve young people's health. To ensure this roadmap is meaningful, effective and sustainable, its development will be governed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. The research team will work closely with young people, key stakeholders and experts to ensure this Roadmap captures the needs of young people and translates to meaningful real-world change.

DOWNLOAD: Roadmap Project Summary (PDF 268 KB)

Older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples need aged care that aligns with their beliefs, customs and culture. This research aims to investigate how home-based and residential aged care services can best support the healthy ageing of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, taking into account community perspectives of health, ageing well and expectations of aged care providers. The research will be conducted across urban, rural and remote regions of South Australia.

Culturally Safe Workforce Models for Rural and Remote Indigenous Organisations

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is ageing. Between 2011 and 2016 the highest increase in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was amongst those aged 55 years and over. The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 65 years and over is projected to grow by 200 per cent by 2031. This is likely to result in an increased demand for aged care services.

The Enough Talk, Time for Action (ETTA): Developing implementing and evaluating co-designed approaches to enhance primary health care services engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men project will identify potential solutions to the long-standing issues of access, quality and acceptability of primary health care (PHC) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men. Specifically, we will develop and trial Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men’s health continuous quality improvement (CQI) approaches within participating Aboriginal Medical Services and/or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

Examining the impact of language reclamation on social and emotional wellbeing among the Barngarla people.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health includes the physical, social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of individuals and their whole community. In this way, language can be seen as part of people’s cultural health and wellbeing. While previous research has shown links between language loss and poor mental health, little research has tried to identify the potential benefits of maintaining or reclaiming Indigenous languages. This study is developing and applying methods to measure the impacts of language reclamation and use with Aboriginal people living within the Eyre Peninsula.

The South Australian Aboriginal Health Landscape project aims to increase Aboriginal people’s access to and use of their health and social data by applying the principles of Indigenous Data Sovereignty. 

The Centre of Research Excellence in Aboriginal Chronic Disease Knowledge Translation and Exchange (CREATE) has been established to assist the Aboriginal health sector to collate and use existing knowledge on best practice chronic disease prevention and treatment as well as sustainable primary health care funding and service delivery models to improve the coverage and appropriateness of their services and care. To find out more click on the link CREATE

The Aboriginal Cardiovascular Omega 3 Trial seeks to identify if Aboriginal people with heart disease are protected from subsequent heart attacks by taking an Omega 3 supplement, and the mechanisms which occur.

The CanDAD project seeks to develop an integrated, comprehensive cancer monitoring system with a particular focus on Aboriginal people in SA. Which incorporates Aboriginal patients’ experiences with cancer services. 

The ENHANCED Project is a major program of work investigating biological, psychological, behavioral and social impacts on development and progression of cardiovascular disease in Aboriginal communities.

The South Australian Childhood Rheumatic Heart Disease Screening Project involves school-based screening for rheumatic heart disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in South Australia. The main aim of the study is to determine the level and location of rheumatic heart disease in the childhood population, particularly among children at highest risk of this disease

The Rheumatic Heart Disease Secondary Prophylaxis Project aims to evaluate a sustainable, transferable, systems-based model of improving delivery of secondary prophylaxis for patients with rheumatic heart disease.

Get in touch
+61 8 8128 4000 info@sahmri.com
You can't miss us!
North Terrace Adelaide 5000 South Australia
Postal Address
PO BOX 11060 Adelaide 5001 South Australia
Key Partners
SAHMRI is located on the traditional lands of the Kaurna Nation.

The SAHMRI community acknowledges and respects the traditional owners, the family clans who are the Kaurna Nation from the Adelaide Plains region of South Australia. We acknowledge the clans of the Kaurna Nation and the sacred knowledge they hold for their country. We pay our respects to the Kaurna Nation, their ancestors and the descendants of these living family clans today.