NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Trust, integrity and respect confirmed as cornerstones of effective Indigenous engagement


Relationships built on trust, integrity and respect are crucial for effective engagement with Indigenous communities, according to two papers released today on the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse website.

Engaging with Indigenous Australia—exploring the conditions for effective relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities reviews the evidence on engagement and outlines the conditions required for effective engagement.


The evidence shows that engaging successfully with Indigenous communities requires:

  • an appreciation of the historical, social, cultural and political complexity of specific Indigenous contexts
  • active Indigenous participation from the earliest stage of defining the problem to be solved and defining aspirations, through to implementing the program and evaluating the results
  • long term relationships of trust, respect and honesty, as well as accessible and ongoing communication and clarity about roles and responsibilities
  • genuine efforts to share power, including through negotiated agreements
  • clarity about the purpose of and scale for engagement and appropriate timeframes
  • attention to strengthening governance and capacity within both the Indigenous community and governments themselves, and good leadership
  • negotiation of clear and agreed outcomes  and indicators of success with monitoring and evaluation processes that meet each parties’ needs.

This paper says evidence shows that effective engagement requires strong and strategic Indigenous and government leadership and adequate governance, and that hurried one-off ‘consultations’ that are organised without Indigenous input do not work.

Fragmented arrangements, where each agency tries to engage with the same Indigenous people and organisations, place unnecessarily heavy burdens on Indigenous people.

These findings are consistent with the findings of the second paper, Engagement with Indigenous communities in key sectors. This paper reviews evidence from studies of Indigenous engagement in early childhood services, environmental and natural resource management activities, and health programs at local, regional, state and national levels.

It outlines the common lessons on different levels of engagement from local engagement through to regional, state-wide and national engagement.

The Closing the Gap Clearinghouse is jointly funded by all Australian governments and provides an online source of information on what works to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage. It is delivered by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS).

Canberra, 2 October 2013

Further information: Nigel Harding, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1025, mob. 0409 307 671

For media copies of the report: 02 6249 5048/02 6249 5033 or email

NACCHO Scholarship Alert: PhD Scholarship $35 k in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health



Expressions of Interest – Andrology Australia – COB Wednesday 31 July 2013

A key priority area of the Andrology Australia program is to raise the awareness of male reproductive health disorders and associated conditions in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

To build capacity in Indigenous Health Research, a scholarship from Andrology Australia is available to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student to undertake full time research towards a PhD degree.

It is proposed that the project will focus on health service access and primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males.

The appointed PhD student will possess either a Medical or Allied Health Professional qualification and registered with their relevant association with a demonstrated research interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health issues.

Practical research experience and ability to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males in discussions about their health and wellbeing are essential requirements for this role. Potential applicants will need to negotiate their candidature with an Australian University.

The successful applicant will receive a PhD scholarship as an annual tax-free stipend equivalent to the NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarship Stipend (approx. $30,500 – $35,500 p.a) for three years full-time. Opportunities to also apply for a NHMRC scholarship and allowances will be encouraged.

Expressions of Interest (EOI): Please send your EOI application by COB Wednesday 31 July 2013 to:

Dr Carol Holden, CEO Andrology Australia
c/o Monash Institute of Medical Research, PO Box 5418, Clayton 3168.

Your EOI application is to include a curriculum vita, academic records, and letter of support from the Dean/Head of School/Department of a participating University, together with contact details of three academic referees.

A possible research opportunity is outlined. Other research proposals consistent with the overall theme and Andrology Australia objectives will also be considered: a 2-page outline is to be submitted with your EOI application.

The Andrology Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health Reference Group will oversee the selection process.

For more information about the PhD scholarship opportunity, please contact:
Dr Carol Holden