An Indigenous wellbeing index and ways to combat loneliness are two of the research projects at The Australian National University (ANU) to receive major funding from the Federal Government.  

Six ANU projects have received more than $10.2 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)’s Investigator Grants, the Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies scheme and targeted funding rounds.

The funding will support ANU researchers to tackle issues including loneliness, telehealth safety, and the specific health and wellbeing needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Professor Ray Lovett has received two grants addressing holistic wellbeing and cultural factors in Indigenous health.

He received funding of $2.8 million to analyse the impact of settler-colonial risks on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the role of culture as a protective factor.

Professor Lovett will also receive nearly $1.8 million to create a world-first Indigenous quality of wellbeing utility index to inform policy, services and programs that meet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ wellbeing needs — a model that could be adapted globally to quantify key determinants of health.

“The Indigenous quality of wellbeing utility index will provide communities, researchers and policymakers with the means to understand a greater diversity of determinants, including cultural and historical factors. This index will strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of programs and services,” he said.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Lachlan Blackhall congratulated all the NHMRC grant recipients on their funding success.

“This achievement reflects the University’s dedication to advancing health research that benefits all Australians,” he said.

“By embracing a holistic approach to wellbeing, especially for Indigenous communities, our work highlights the diverse factors that contribute to quality of life.

“This funding success is a testament to the skill and dedication of our researchers here at the ANU, and I look forward to the positive impact it will have on our nation.”

Dr Sam Buckberry also received more than $1.6 million to develop precision medicine biomarkers tailored for Indigenous Australians, aiming to improve prediction, management and prevention of cardiometabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes.

Dr Uday Narayan Yadav won $674,400 for his project on addressing social and cultural challenges to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“We need to understand health is not about just tablets, it’s all about considering the importance of family, community and social and cultural determinants of health while delivering culturally safe care,” he said.

Other ANU researchers to win funding in the recent rounds of NHMRC funding:

Professor Tegan Cruwys received nearly $2.8 million to develop effective community solutions for preventing and treating loneliness.

Professor Christine Phillips received $602,998 to enhance the safety of telehealth consultations, especially for high-risk scenarios and individuals with limited English proficiency.

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