Recognising that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers and practitioners are best placed to translate research findings and improve health service delivery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the Health Translation SA (HTSA) initiative Strengthening Aboriginal Capacity in Health Research Translation and Development in South Australia (StACTD) Project is working to build a network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners and researchers in South Australia skilled in health translation to help reduce the time between research findings and improvements in health outcomes.
The StACTD Project is supported through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and directed by a leadership group comprising mostly Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander representatives from a range of HTSA partners, including SA Health; the University of South Australia; SAHMRI; and the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA).
Senior Research Fellow and Platform Lead of Capacity Development within Wardliparingga Aboriginal Health Equity at SAHMRI, Dr Karla Canuto, is a Torres Strait Islander who understands balancing physical, mental, emotional, cultural, and spiritual health is the key to effective health service delivery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“The Training Program gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants the opportunity to upskill, or reskill, in health research translation, and is suitable for a wide variety of people, including people working in health services; working on research projects; or enrolled in a Higher Degree by Research.
“While the Health Translation Training Program is still in its relatively early days, we already have 26 participants gaining skills in health research translation that will see research evidence inform health services and policy.”
Capacity Development Senior Project Officer, Eliza Schioldann, says one of the strengths of the Health Research Translation Training Program is that it is tailored to suit each participant.
“The expertise provided by Health Translation SA has been instrumental in helping us to identify the core competencies for health translation that are important for our participants to have and therefore the relevant training opportunities the StACTD Program should offer,” Ms Schioldann says.
“Our participants may have had different reasons for joining the program, and be hoping to gain different things from it, but it’s been fantastic to have them come together as a cohort and see them making some really valuable connections with each other.
“A key benefit that has emerged is the ability of the cohort to feel comfortable gathering in a culturally safe space to discuss research-related, or other, issues.
“This is especially important for some of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants who work with mostly non-Indigenous colleagues who may have little knowledge or experience of Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing.”
Eastern Arrernte/Tanganekald woman, Courtney Hammond, is a Research Assistant within Wardliparingga’s Implementation Science Platform, and is also completing the StACTD Training Program.
“Through the StACTD Program I have been lucky enough to be involved in the Research Impact Academy, already completing three out of four of the interactive workshops to further increase my understanding of knowledge translation and how this can be directly incorporated into all of our research.”
Sandra Van Diermen is a Yawarrawarrka/Western Arrernte woman with Afghani heritage on her father’s side, and works as an Evaluator in the Child Health, Development and Education Team at the Telethon Kids Institute.
As a StACTD Participant, she says she will continue to draw on what she has learned through the project for a long time.
“I’m a firm believer in empowering community through research and evidence-based results that support self-management, particularly around health and education for children,” she says.
“My main goal is to ensure the work the Telethon Kids Institute does is inclusive of and beneficial to our First Nations children and their families and communities.
“This project is bringing together like-minded people and has created opportunities for building partnerships and collaborations for our future work.
“Having the option to access other learning programs and courses with support from the StACTD team has built my confidence to look at further education opportunities, something I haven’t considered since I was a young woman.”
As well as delivering the Training Program, the StACTD Project also aims to develop culturally safe environments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers and professionals across the health sector, to improve both their retention in the workforce, and their progress in health research and translation careers.
“An important part of developing culturally safe environments is the provision of cultural safety training, for employers and managers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers, students, and researchers in the health sector,” Dr Canuto says.
“StACTD will soon be inviting research staff from Health Translation SA partner agencies who, as part of their role may supervise Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander members of the health/health research workforce, to participate in a series of Cultural Awareness and Cultural Safety training workshops that aim to develop the capacity of non-Indigenous managers in building and maintaining culturally safe and respectful work environments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”
StACTD (MRF9100005) is supported by the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) as part of the Rapid Applied Research Translation program. This Project is part of the work being undertaken by Health Translation SA.