It is critical to improving the benefit of health research to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers are at the centre of research. This will ensure that research is better aligned with community needs which in turn leads to more effective health policy and action.
Building on the successes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers over the past two decades, the Lowitja Institute saw the need for a review and analysis of progress in expanding and strengthening the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researcher workforce. To be best placed for strategic workforce planning, the Lowitja Institute highlighted the need to identify and understand success factors connected with research training approaches. Researchers at the Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health were commissioned to conduct the review and analysis.
- Drawing on strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community capabilities, researchers have made significant inroads in changing the structural conditions on which health research is based, organised, conducted and applied. This has culminated in more inclusive, rigorous, ethical, culturally appropriate and impactful research.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders' contributions and expertise within conventional research organisations are often unrecognised, under-valued, non-remunerated, or pushed to the periphery in other ways.
- Many of the interviewees in this project described an expanding of recognition, valuing and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and values, and enactment of support structures for Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students, and there is still a long way to go in realising environments in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers are free to excel.
- Power generated by cohorts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers is integral to strengthening research capabilities.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers exert agency in navigating structural tensions between the academy, family and community.
In light of these main findings, cohortdriven research training models, such as the former building Indigenous research capacity collective at James Cook University (BIRC Collective–JCU), should be prioritised in research capability policy and implementation. This review also details Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researcher experiences and views on intersecting features of RCS, e.g. mentorship, supervision, funding, and pathways and transitions.