$11.2 million for Indigenous health research

Indigenous health research has been given a major boost with the Australian Government committing over $11.2 million for medical researchers to tackle health disparities and develop solutions for First Nations Australians.

Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy
Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health

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Indigenous health research has been given a major boost with the Australian Government committing over $11.2 million for medical researchers to tackle health disparities and develop solutions for First Nations Australians.

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) is supporting 11 new projects around Indigenous health research including dental care, mental health, diabetes and kidney disease.

Projects will engage with First Nations communities and most studies will be led by prominent First Nations health researchers together with leading universities and research institutes.

The Australian Government is boosting support for medical researchers across the country to drive modern and lasting solutions in bush communities, towns and the city.

Under one of the projects, new research will trial a less invasive way to prevent dental disease and improve the oral health of young people in First Nations communities who experience profound levels of preventable dental diseases.

The use of antibiotic liquid silver fluroride (AgF) could be a gamechanger in reducing tooth decay in children without the use of needles or drills.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide will receive $3.2 million from the Australian Government to evaluate the extent of dental disease among First Nations children and the clinical and cost effectiveness of using AgF to improve the oral health of children.

Quotes attributable to Assistant Minister McCarthy:  

“The Australian Government will work every day to close the profound gap that exists for First Nations Australians and these research projects will be critical in discovering solutions to pressing health issues.”

“Investing in Indigenous health research will go a long way in ensuring First Nations Australians can live longer, healthier and happier lives.”

“The Government’s investment of over $11.2 million into innovative research is a great addition to our ambitious First Nations health agenda.”

“Dental disease is a significant problem in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, causing pain, ongoing health problems, and taking a toll on the quality of life of young people.

“Finding better ways to prevent tooth decay without needles or drills will make a lifelong difference, especially for those who fear the dentist.”


List of projects and description

Project title



Grant Value

Examining the impact of extreme temperature on primary healthcare services utilisation in remote Central Australia to inform adaptation strategies

There is limited information on the impact of extreme hot weather on remote clinic utilisation. This project aims to generate an evidence base on the impact of exposure to extreme heat on primary health care service utilisation in Central Australia. This evidence will inform the collaborative development of adaptation strategies by communities and the primary health care sector to reduce the impacts of extreme temperatures on health outcomes.

Menzies School of Health Research


Our Wisdom, Our Ways supporting Aboriginal Women carers using a strengths based approach to the development of carer and clinician resources that support the carer to continue to care.

First Nations women and Elders overwhelmingly bare the burden of care to their children, grandchildren, families and others. COVID-19 has placed significant stressor on First Nation women carers and those requiring care. Through lived experience this project seeks to develop, distribute and evaluate in partnership first time resources for carers and clinical teams supporting the mental health and wellbeing for First Nations women carers and Elders on Wiradjuri Country - Our Wisdom, Our Ways.

University of New South Wales


Strong Community, Strong Health: Exploring opportunities for chronic disease prevention in the Torres Strait

Chronic disease represents a significant risk to the health and wellbeing of Australia’s First Nations peoples. This project will partner with Torres Strait communities to co-develop diet and activity tools and map enablers and barriers to health in the Torres Strait. This project will address gaps in information about dietary and activity practices of people living in the Torres Strait, raise awareness in communities of chronic disease risks, and inform future interventions.

James Cook University


A silver fluoride intervention to improve the life trajectories of Indigenous young people and reduce dental disease across the life course

Indigenous children and young people experience profound levels of preventable dental diseases. Severe cases frequently require care under a hospital-based general anaesthetic. We plan to arrest active dental disease in Indigenous children/adolescents through an intervention involving silver fluoride (AgF). AgF application is a much less invasive alternative to needles, and drilling and filling, with many cost-benefits. There is particular utility among Indigenous children in remote locations.

The University of Adelaide


Co-Designing a Coordinated, Sustainable and Supportive Patient Navigator Program to Improve Kidney Health Outcomes

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people rely on each other and networks across Country to feel safe in the Australian health system. For kidney patients, this is especially important as the treatment journey is complex, confusing, and often frightening. This project seeks the best ways to integrate Patient Navigators (people with lived experience of kidney disease) into our health system to provide safe care and better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney patients.

South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute Limited


Improving coverage, confidence and knowledge about COVID-19 vaccination among Aboriginal Women of child-bearing age in Western Australia

This Aboriginal-led research aims to improve the COVID-19 vaccination program for Aboriginal women in two Aboriginal health services in Western Australia. Appropriate access and effectiveness (via timely vaccine uptake) of COVID-19 vaccination for First Nations women of childbearing age during preconception, pregnancy and/or are breastfeeding in Western Australia is urgently needed.

Curtin University


Knowledge interface co-design of a diabetes and metabolic syndrome intervention with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living on Ngarrindjeri country

Diabetes is a national health priority in Australia, and Aboriginal people are significantly impacted by higher diagnosis, hospitalisation and death. The Coorong Diabetes Collaborative will change these terrible health impacts through a newly developed program to reverse diabetes. We will do this with local Aboriginal people, health professionals, doctors, experts on ketogenic eating and on ways to measure this. Aboriginal people will trial the program for evaluation and upscale in Australia.

Flinders University


Multidisciplinary co-design of innovative, client-centred models for Indigenous mental health services in South East Queensland

Longstanding mental health inequities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples exist in Australia. Our aim is to improve Indigenous clients’ timely access to culturally appropriate, safe health care services for the prevention, treatment and management of mental health issues. We will co-produce new models of mental health care across community-controlled and mainstream services in ways that privilege the knowledges and lived experiences of Indigenous clients.

The University of Queensland


Child Protection Services in Health: Fostering community led solutions to minimise trauma and change trajectories of pregnant Aboriginal women, their children and their families

Aboriginal families have been negatively affected by the ongoing removal of children and suffer high levels of trauma, grief, and loss. Health and social services have systems of care driven by negative ideas about Aboriginal people, including pregnant women and their ability to parent. Our research, led by Aboriginal people, will look at SA data, how health and social services are delivered and work with community to make sure that services treat trauma, support families and are appropriate.

Flinders University


Building a Culturally Safe Mental Health System for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Young People


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people face a disparity in mental health systems as these systems do not operate in a culturally safe way. We will establish evidence-based ways to improve cultural safety in mental health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and their families. We will map child and family experiences in mental health services, and develop guidelines for those services to improve cultural safety.


University of Western Australia




Type 2 diabetes prevalence and management in patients attending an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service in Southeast Queensland over a twelve-year period: factors associated with good management and low risk of hospitalisation

Statistics show that by 55 years of age, at least one in three Indigenous Australians will have diabetes. Diabetes can cause serious heart and kidney problems for which people need to go to hospital, but there are ways to reduce the risk of having such problems. We aim to learn if The Inala Indigenous Health Service can do better for people with diabetes. We also would like to know if the number of people developing diabetes is increasing, and if more resources are needed to prevent diabetes.


The University of Queensland



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