“This unique centre aligns strongly with the Turnbull Government’s holistic, whole-of-life approach to improving First Peoples’ health.
Ngangk Yira means ‘rising sun’ in Noongar and aims to expose and reduce the broader social inequities that affect the health of many of our people.
Targeting and understanding the social and cultural determinants of health is crucial, because these factors can account for up to half the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.”
Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM has officially launched an Australian-first centre to boost Aboriginal health by fast-tracking social and cultural research.
See Murdoch University press Release part 2 below
See the research projects seek to close the gap in Aboriginal health Part 3 Below
Hear from Professors Rhonda Marriott and Fiona Stanley, and meet Aboriginal midwife Valerie Ah Chee in the Ngangk Yira launch video
Minister Wyatt said Murdoch University’s Ngangk Yira Aboriginal Health and Social Equity Research Centre promises new methods of tackling Closing the Gap challenges.
Minister Wyatt said the new centre would focus on practical health solutions, including research into the importance of cultural respect, education and equality.
“Ngangk Yira’s Birthing on Noongar Boodjar study has already revealed a shortage of culturally secure maternity care in hospitals,” Minister Wyatt said.
“The centre’s work is about giving children the best start in life and the opportunity to reach their full potential as they grow into adults.”
Minister Wyatt is Patron of the new centre. Co-Patron is Fiona Stanley AC.
Research will be conducted by Aboriginal researchers, in partnership with other Australian and international experts in maternal health, youth resilience and mental health.
Ngangk Yira studies will be carried out in close consultation with Aboriginal elders.
Murdoch University is this week launching an Aboriginal health research centre – the first of its kind in Australia – to address the urgent and complex ‘wicked’ problems affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and social equity.
The Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity will focus on translational research that provides practical solutions to improve health, educational and social outcomes for Aboriginal families and their communities.
Led by Aboriginal maternal and child health academic Professor Rhonda Marriott, the Centre has as patrons eminent child and Aboriginal health advocate Professor Fiona Stanley AC and Federal Minister for Indigenous Health Hon Ken Wyatt, MP.
Research is conducted by Aboriginal researchers in partnership with leading WA and international, maternal health, youth resilience and mental health experts and services and with the close involvement of community elders and stakeholders.
Taking a connected life course approach from pregnancy, to young adulthood, and parenthood the Centre’s research recognises that a strong start in life is fundamental for healthy and resilient children, families and communities, Professor Marriott said.
“To grow strong Aboriginal communities, we must start at the beginning by supporting mothers and families every step of the journey from pregnancy. Even before a baby is born, the environment has a big impact on lifelong social, physical and emotional health,” Professor Marriott said.
Murdoch University Vice Chancellor Professor Eeva Leinonen said Ngangk Yira’s work had the potential to transform the real-life experiences of Aboriginal families and their communities.
“We will be pioneering the practical changes that will change the life course of the next generation of Aboriginal youth, and informing key changes to state and national policy, practice and education to support these outcomes,” Professor Leinonen said.
Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt said: “The work of this centre will help to push out life expectancy and is likely to reduce the prevalence rates of renal disease and many of the later chronic conditions because children will grow up healthy and resilient. Like a house, a solid foundation gives strength to the structure and, equally, the foundation of life and being born healthy and well means that your life’s journey will be stronger and longer.”
A recently completed four-year NHMRC-funded Ngangk Yira project, Birthing on Noongar Boodjar, highlighted a shortage of high-quality, culturally secure maternity care in WA hospitals that was critical to improved maternity care and childbirth outcomes for Aboriginal mothers and their babies.
Other projects underway include the Baby Coming – You Ready program that provides a mental health screening tool for postnatal depression to assist young parents during pregnancy and their babies first year. This is expected to bolster the social and emotional wellbeing of new parents and support improved birth and developmental outcomes for their babies.
The Indigenous Young People’s Resilience and Wellbeing project is a long-term study of Aboriginal youth aged 15 to 18 to better understand factors affecting their resilience and wellbeing and to improve youth services and community programs to address these.
Parental mental health and its impact on children’s mental health will also be examined through a population-based Linked Data Project that will study the type, scale and timing of mental health problems in young Aboriginal people and their families. Data will be used to address some critical gaps in support for mental health development in “the critical first 1001 days” of a child’s life.
This research is expected to improve knowledge of the mental and physical health of Aboriginal children in Western Australia, pregnancy outcomes, child abuse and neglect, disability, contact with the juvenile justice system and education.
The Centre’s work to identify ways to make Aboriginal families healthier and more resilient is also supported by strong partnerships with academics and experts in NSW, Canada and the UK, along with the Telethons Kids’ Institute, the University of Notre Dame and international universities.
To learn more about Ngangk Yira click here.
Part 3 About Ngangk Yira
Murdoch University’s Ngangk Yira Research Centre supports the University’s commitment to improving Aboriginal health, wellbeing and social equity through innovative and translational research.
Ngangk Yira’s research takes a connected approach from pregnancy, young adulthood, to parenthood and the transition to older adulthood, recognising the evidence that a strong start in life is fundamental for healthy and resilient children, families and communities.
Aboriginal researchers lead the Centre’s projects in partnership with non-Aboriginal colleagues and with the close involvement of community elders.
Its work is already pioneering the practical changes that will change the life course of the next generation of Aboriginal youth and which will inform translatable outcomes to state and national policy, practice and education.
Upcoming studies will help better identify and address risk factors for mental wellbeing in mothers and young families and look at ways to build resilience in Aboriginal youth.
Ngangk Yira brings together an experienced team of researchers, led by Professor Rhonda Marriot. Professor Fiona Stanley and the Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Ken Wyatt, are patrons of the Centre.
Ngangk means both ‘mother’ and ‘sun’. Alongside the Noongar word Yira, the meaning expands to: the rising sun (ngangk yira). Together, they have added spiritual meaning for the sun’s giving of life to all things in its passage across the sky.
Our research projects seek to close the gap in Aboriginal health
Birthing on Noongar Boodjar
Since 2014, researchers at Murdoch University have been collecting data to better understand the cultural needs of Aboriginal women and different meanings of ‘cultural security’ when Birthing on Country.
Interviews with Aboriginal mothers, senior women and elders examined what women want and expect from their maternity health services. An understanding of the knowledge and experience of midwives in supporting Aboriginal women’s maternity care was also gained.
The study found that more Aboriginal midwives and culturally secure models of care in WA hospitals are critical to closing the gap in maternity care and childbirth outcomes for Aboriginal women and families. Both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants identified the negative impact of racism and racial stereotyping on Aboriginal women’s birthing experiences.
The research recognised that better access to Aboriginal staff and family support during pregnancy and childbirth helped empower Aboriginal mothers.
Baby Coming – You Ready?
Perinatal mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can result in detrimental impacts on pregnancy and postnatal periods. Baby Coming – You Ready? was designed by Aboriginal men and women to assist young parents during pregnancy and their child’s first year.
It is different from other mental health screening and assessment tools because it’s a shared assessment between the client and the clinician, with a goal to bringing clarity to complex situations. The model encourages self-evaluation and reflection and fosters an understanding for both users.
This web-based interactive app will do much more than screen for perinatal depression. It will use visual images on a touch screen device to portray emotions, circumstances and events, both positive and challenging, that a mother or father-to-be may be experiencing.
Baby Coming – You Ready? is expected to see improvements in attendance at antenatal appointments, bolstering the social and emotional wellbeing of expectant and new parents, and better birth and development outcomes for babies.
Learn more in the Ngangk Yira brochure.
Indigenous Young People’s Resilience and Wellbeing (2017 – 2020)
Launched in the second half of 2017, this project is a longitudinal study of Aboriginal youth across two sites; one here in Noongar country and one in the Gamilaroi nation in New South Wales.
The project is expected to enhance understanding of Aboriginal youth and improve our knowledge of their resilience and wellbeing.
Learn more in the Ngangk Yira brochure.
Linked Data Project
Parental mental health and its impact on children’s outcomes will be examined through data collected between 1990 – 2015. The data will be used to study the type, scale and timing of mental health problems in young people and their families, and address critical gaps in mental health, with a focus on the “critical 1001 day” period for children.
Key outcomes will include improved knowledge of the mental and physical health of Aboriginal children in Western Australia, pregnancy outcomes, child abuse and neglect, disability, contact with the juvenile justice system and education.
Learn more in the Ngangk Yira brochure.
Helping to build healthy and resilient communities
Learn more about our first complete project, the four-year Birthing on Noongar Boodjar, and Baby Coming – You Ready?, Ngangk Yira’s aim to find meaningful solutions to real problems.
Hear from Professors Rhonda Marriott and Fiona Stanley, and meet Aboriginal midwife Valerie Ah Chee in the Ngangk Yira launch video.