Public health research highlighted during NAIDOC Week

2022 NAIDOC Week logo. Text 'Get up! Stand up! Show up! 3-10 July 2022.'

Dr Michelle Kennedy and Dr Leanne Coombe

PHAA celebrates this year’s NAIDOC Week theme, as outlined on the official NAIDOC site:

“Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! with us to amplify our voices and narrow the gap between aspiration and reality, good intent and outcome. It’s also time to celebrate the many who have driven and led change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities over generations—they have been the heroes and champions of change, of equal rights and even basic human rights.”

NAIDOC Week not only presents an opportunity to come together to reflect on the histories, cultures, resilience, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but also reflect on the role non-Indigenous people play in addressing the ongoing social and health inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples caused by colonization.

PHAA is strongly committed to embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership throughout our organization. This is just part of our contribution to getting up, standing up and showing up. PHAA’s Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health is also committed to publishing research to address public health priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Several of the papers published within the last year in the ANZJPH, have been selected for inclusion in the 2022 Wiley NAIDOC Collection.

Chronic disease

Riley et. al investigated risk markers of chronic disease among a cohort of Aboriginal children in NSW aged 5-18 years of age. The authors found that few children had dyslipidaemia and hyperglycaemia, although the prevalence of overweight or obesity increased with age. These early chronic disease markers reinforce the appropriateness of screening from 18 years of age and indicate opportunities for promoting health factors that reduce the risk of future chronic disease during childhood.

Mental health

Day et. al evaluated the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid training program. This course has been specifically designed to train Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults to recognize and respond to distress and mental health problems experienced by individuals in their communities, and to provide community care until professional care can be provided. The results highlighted the course’s quality and cultural safety, particularly regarding the sensitivities of the trainers who had lived experience of working in mental health within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This finding highlighted the opportunities of strengthening mental health services through community engagement.


Thurber et. al explored the risk factors associated with severe illness from COVID-19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults. The authors highlight social determinants and inequities, rather than Indigeneity, as risk factors and emphasize the need for a multi-sectoral response that addresses systemic racism and discrimination. Donohue and McDowall analyzed discourses within the COVID-19 policy response for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Despite the leadership, advocacy, and self-protecting actions of communities, regional councils, and the community-controlled health sector, government policies perpetuated the constructs of Indigeneity as a deficit, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as vulnerable, and in need of being controlled to protect their health and wellbeing. Both these papers highlight the need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to be treated as a priority, rather than vulnerable, population with responses that capitalize on the strengths of community and the community-controlled health sector.

The study by Gall et. al explored changes to self-reported wellbeing and health-related quality-of-life of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples pre and post the first wave of COVID-19. Similarly, they found an urgent need for forward planning and responses to the ongoing pandemic for priority groups, especially for those with comorbidities and financial instability. This paper is also featured in the Meet the Researcher section of the Collection. The Q&A interview with lead author Dr Alana Gall is now available on Intouch.

PHAA urges you to join with us this NAIDOC Week to celebrate these champions of change and consider how each of us as individual public health researchers and practitioners can Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!

Image: 2022 National NAIDOC logo

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