SEARCH, the Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health, is Australia’s largest long-term study of the health and wellbeing of urban Aboriginal Children.
An estimated 60% of the health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Australia is attributable to the health of people living in non-remote, urban areas.
While 57% of the Aboriginal population lives in urban areas, recent data suggests only 10% of Aboriginal health research focuses on the needs of urban Aboriginal people; and even less on childhood, where health inequity begins.
SEARCH is a unique resource for understanding the causes of ill health in urban Aboriginal children, and for developing and implementing strategies to improve their health.
SEARCH is a partnership between researchers from a number of institutions, the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) and four Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs).
In Phase 1 of SEARCH more than 1600 children were recruited across four ACCHSs – Awabakal, Tharawal, RivMed and Western Sydney. Phase 2 of data collection, the first follow up of these children, is on track to be completed by early 2017.
These data will provide important information about how the health of urban Aboriginal children changes over time, and what predicts good or poor health in this group. Its value will increase over time as more data is collected – the study aims to follow the children and their families over a 20 year period.
ACCHSs and government and non-government agencies are already using the information collected by SEARCH to understand the health needs of urban Aboriginal children in a wide range of areas such as ear health, mental health, nutrition, and overweight and obesity.
View the full list of SEARCH publications: SEARCH publications
The value of data and community engagement
SEARCH is committed to using the data collected to bring about health improvements through better-informed services, policies and programs, and the ACCHSs are ensuring that the driving purpose of the study is to stimulate action to improve health for urban Aboriginal children and their families.
This project focuses on areas of health regarded as important by participating ACCHSs, which are responsible for significant morbidity in urban Aboriginal children/adolescents, and/or have their origins at this time.
- social and emotional wellbeing
- ear health, hearing, speech and language development, including both educational and vocational outcomes
- cardiovascular, kidney and metabolic disease
- health risk behaviours
- environmental health
Working as part of SEARCH are four Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services:
- Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation
- Western Sydney Aboriginal Health Service (interim services are being provided by WentWest)
- Awabakal Newcastle Aboriginal Cooperative Ltd
- Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Corporation