The Fay Fuller Foundation has announced an $844,000 grant to support a project run by Dr Odette Gibson and her team at the Wardliparingga Aboriginal Research Unit at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). The funding will support the South Australian Aboriginal Landscape project, which will report and monitor Aboriginal health inequities at the community level within South Australia.
The Landscape Project
The South Australian Aboriginal Landscape project will report on the health, social and economic conditions that affect the health of populations to better understand the needs of Aboriginal peoples in South Australia and provide an evidence base for policy development, service planning and monitoring efforts over time.
The study will focus on reporting health status and social determinants of health for 19 areas that cover the whole of South Australia. This includes in the areas of diabetes, heart disease, maternal and perinatal health and cancer, for example.
Social determinants, such as level of education attainment, household income levels, access to transport, all of which impacts on health status, will also be a focus, in addition to how well the health system is performing for Aboriginal people. A measure of system performance would include reporting the rate of hospitalisation for conditions that can be adequately managed in the community setting by general practitioners and primary care providers. When appropriate, comparisons will be made between the health of local Aboriginal people and their non-Aboriginal counterparts.
Aboriginal communities in South Australia will be lead partners in the Aboriginal Health Landscape study. An advisory group of Aboriginal people will provide guidance on the most important information to report, the interpretation of results based on local community issues and how best to report and disseminate information for the greatest benefit to the Aboriginal community.
Increased knowledge leads to improved health outcomes
Project Lead, Dr Odette Gibson, said that there is currently no reporting and monitoring of Aboriginal health inequities at the community level over time within SA.
“This is a deficit within our State, as we have no way of knowing the impact of policy and service provision efforts in the short-term and at the community level,” Dr Gibson said.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Fay Fuller Foundation, whose funding will enable us to establish an Aboriginal health reporting and monitoring system. Importantly, Aboriginal people will determine the priorities for reporting, be involved in the interpretation and distribution of information and monitoring changes over time.”
Professor Alex Brown, Theme Leader for Aboriginal Health within SAHMRI and the University of South Australia, stated that for too long, there has been investment in Aboriginal affairs, without the necessary investment in rigorous monitoring and evaluation. This is essential for building a healthier, fairer and more just community here in South Australia.
“We are over the moon that the Fay Fuller Foundation has agreed to support this essential work. Our objective is to provide an evidence base that is used to inform policy and practice that results in better health outcomes for Aboriginal people,” Professor Brown said.
David Minns, Chairman of the Fay Fuller Foundation, commended Dr Gibson on her research.
“If South Australia wants to lead the way in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal people we need to start using the information we already have at hand. For too long we have had policy and health programs implemented in communities without understanding local nuances or long-term effects of cyclical service planning,” Mr Minns said.
“We are delighted that this work is being lead within the Wardliparingga Aboriginal Research Unit and are thrilled Dr Gibson will be leading a team of Aboriginal people to determine the program’s priorities.”
The Fay Fuller Foundation; investing in a healthier future
The Fay Fuller Foundation was established in 2003 and aims to improve South Australia’s health outcomes across physical health, mental health and social wellbeing. More information can be found at www.fayfullerfoundation.com.au.