Dr Alex Brown, Executive Director, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute Central Australia
Professor Alan Cass, Senior Director, The George Institute for Global Health
Professor Sandra Eades, Head, Indigenous Maternal and Child Health Research Group
Associate Professor Josée Lavoie, University of Northern British Columbia
Dr Maree Hackett, Senior Research Fellow in Mental Health, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Sydney
Ms Samantha Togni, Research Coordinator, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute Central Australia
Disparities in health status and the life-expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are well documented. Amongst a long list of specific health issues contributing to ill health in Indigenous communities, chronic diseases represent the most significant contributor to disparities, in both relative and absolute terms. The long-term and comorbid nature of chronic diseases can have a profound effect on individual sufferers, their families and the community. Primary care, in particular Indigenous primary care, is at the forefront of Australia’s collective efforts to ‘Close the Gap’.
The Kanyini Vascular Collaboration (KVC) represents a network of leading Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers, Aboriginal medical services, community members and policy advisers with the overarching mission of achieving health system reform to improve outcomes for Indigenous people with chronic disease. The collaboration aims to:
- improve health outcomes in Indigenous people with or at risk of diabetes, heart and kidney diseases
- explore and understand health system enablers and barriers to care across the continuum
- develop, implement and evaluate strategies to improve access, quality and safety of care
- build the capacity of community and services in conducting high-quality primary care research.
This Centre of Excellence will build on the KVC with the following key objectives:
- Improve the quality of care, the quality of life and outcomes of chronic disease.
- Examine the impact, utility and effectiveness of the federal governments ‘Closing the Gap’ chronic disease package elements within partner primary care services, with a view to maximising benefit for patients and informing policy development.
- Develop a cadre of Indigenous primary care researchers with the skills and support to contribute to their communities needs in chronic disease into the future.
- Developing a model of chronic disease care for Indigenous Australians – The Kanyini Chronic Care Model (CCM).
- Building better systems of chronic disease care involving innovative trials in family-based chronic disease prevention and care (The Danila Dilba Project) and electronic decision support tools.
- Extending our emerging yet pioneering research on the interplay between psychosocial factors such as chronic stress and depression on the burden and management of chronic diseases in Aboriginal communities in order to develop future interventions in comorbid chronic disease.
Building research capacity
The three Postdoctoral Fellows and six half-time Indigenous Research Fellow (IRF) positions attached to this Centre will be supported by the chief investigators and through the Baker IDI Indigenous Vascular Unit and Renal and Metabolic Division at the George Institute, with the aim of developing a cadre of Indigenous primary health care researchers. The majority of the IRF positions will be based within Aboriginal Primary Healthcare partner organisations. The Centre will also partner with the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association to build the capacity of Indigenous medical students and GP registrars to engage in primary healthcare research. Each identified GP registrar will be partnered with a specific mentor, who will help to identify specific research and learning plans for the coming year. IRFs will be enrolled in a research higher degree while working with the Centre.
The Centre’s commitment to building research capacity represents about 54 per cent of the four-year budget.