Indigenous Australians continue to experience serious health inequality. Compared to the general population, First Nations peoples experience chronic and complex problems, interpersonal and institutional racism and barriers to accessing adequate health care.

Research that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must not be ‘added on’ to the work of others – it must be a research focus.

Aboriginal health research spans all UNSW Medicine research themes. If we are to effectively integrate this research into healthcare, we believe that Aboriginal leadership and culture must be at the centre of all activities.

Research with, not on or for Aboriginal Communities

Aboriginal health is defined not only by the physical wellbeing of an individual, but by the social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of the whole community.

The health of individual people is closely linked to the capacity of health and other systems. Our research activities have a holistic approach that span all levels of care, as well as individual, family and community systems. UNSW research aims to build capacity in services to meet community needs.

Aboriginal communities have seen many researchers come and go, often creating and then dissipating trust. UNSW Medicine undertakes sustained work involving a group of committed, knowledgeable and engaged researchers. To generate change, medicine researchers build deep relationships with Elders, leaders and community members.

Our Aboriginal health research capability is made up of local, national and international leaders in basic sciences, clinical, public and allied health. These researchers have proven expertise in driving top-quality clinical care, research and education. It includes Aboriginal Elders and community representatives, researchers, policymakers, educators, program deliverers, service leaders and peak body members.

Together, we are working to:

  • build Aboriginal leadership and perspectives, to align research, practice and community needs
  • audit and benchmark integrated, holistic models of care
  • lead the development of innovative research methodologies and tools
  • implement effective workforce development programs
  • translate best practice into policy
  • stimulate opportunities for further research.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art


Our impact mobilises capacity in and between multiple worlds: Aboriginal communities and non-Aboriginal service providers, researchers and practitioners, and in professional and community settings. 

Members of our team have collectively and individually led innovations and improvements for over two decades across Aboriginal health research, education and practice. We work across all levels of healthcare and in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations government departments and clinical settings.  

We contribute to state and federal policies, including the current National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan. UNSW Medicine holds Advisory roles on government agencies such as the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare