New project targets evaluation to support Aboriginal community-led healthcare

The Sax Institute and its partners have been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the Medical Research Future Fund to provide much needed evidence about the effectiveness of innovative Aboriginal-led health programs.

The Indigenous Led Evaluation of Aboriginal Programs (ILEAP) project will evaluate three programs designed and led by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, with the aim of identifying effective approaches in critical health areas, such as Aboriginal youth suicide and adult chronic disease.

While Aboriginal people have disproportionately high rates of chronic disease and mental health issues, mainstream programs to address these issues have so far failed to close this gap. Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) have stepped into the breach and developed a range of innovative primary care programs that directly support their communities. But one issue is that these programs have rarely been evaluated.

Led by Sandra Bailey, Senior Adviser at the Sax Institute, the ILEAP project will be conducted in close collaboration with Aboriginal leaders, primary care workers and the community. It is founded on the Institute’s strong, long-term collaborations with the Aboriginal health sector, including the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation in Campbelltown, Orange Aboriginal Medical Service in rural NSW, Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service in remote NSW, and Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council.

The outcome of this project will see increased Aboriginal-led evaluation of programs, better translation of evidence into practice in ACCHSs, increasing access to essential primary care services.

“ACCHSs have developed these innovative programs and through this research will lead their evaluation. This work will provide valuable insights into the parts of each program that are working well and the opportunities to further strengthen and build on what’s been established,” says Sax Institute Deputy CEO Dr Martin McNamara.

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