The Telethon Institute for Child Health Research is involved in a raft of projects and programs that are committed to Aboriginal Health Research such as:
The Developmental Pathways Project
The Developmental Pathways in WA Children Project is a landmark project taking a multidisciplinary and holistic approach to investigate the pathways to health and wellbeing, education and juvenile delinquency outcomes among Western Australian children and youth.
Projects within this program include:
- Exploring the Pathways to Contact with Juvenile Justice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
- Child Protection Theme: Child abuse and neglect
- Do you see what I see?
- Social determinants of health
- On the dimensions and development of juvenile delinquency
- Relationship between educational and mental health outcomes for Western Australian children
Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Headed by Associate Professor Deborah Lehmann, there are several projects involving Aboriginal families and children.
Genetics and Health
Headed by Professor Jenefer Blackwell, the Genetics and Health research at the Institute has undertaken the following project specific to Aboriginal Health.
The Aboriginal genetics study has provided unique opportunity for the development of novel and culturally appropriate methods of health education - watch the video The Goanna and the Journey of the Genes - Aboriginal Family Genetics and Health Study - Diabetes.
Indigenous Capacity Building Grant (ICBG)
This was a five year grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) awarded in 2004 after an application spearheaded by Perth's Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, along with Curtin University of Technology, the University of Western Australia and the Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health.
Over the course of the ICBG, the ten Aboriginal researchers contributed to
14 substantial reports, 9 books/or chapters in books, 35 journal publications, 35 presentations at international conferences, 34 presentations at national conferences, and 48 competitive grants.
Sven Silburn, Sally Brinkman, Bonnie Moss, Anne Hanning & Roz Walker
Initiated in 2007, the Indigenous Australian Early Development Index (Indigenous-AEDI) project adapted the widely used Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) to take into account Aboriginal cultural differences in the influences on child development. The study was overseen by a National Indigenous AEDI Reference Group with input from Indigenous peak bodies and grass roots community organisations, parents, unions and government and non-government stakeholders throughout the project. The first phase was completed in 2008 and third and final phases were completed in 2009. The adapted version of the AEDI was piloted in 2008 with Indigenous children from 49 schools in three sites around Western Australia- Armadale, Murchison Gascoyne and the Pilbara. In 2009 the study focused on communicating and disseminating the results in trial sites identifying and using local, culturally relevant and meaningful resources and processes. The study was extended to the Northern Territory.
Based on the findings of the study an adapted Checklist was integrated into national AEDI checklist in 2009 with the following modifications:
- The recommended use of Indigenous school personnel to work as cultural consultants with teachers in completing the AEDI checklists for Indigenous children.
- Modifications to the on-line teacher guide to provide additional information so that cultural considerations can be taken into account on certain checklist items.
- Additional checklist items of relevance to understanding the particular circumstances of Indigenous children. That may affect attendance and performance (cultural, sickness or other); use of home language, history of otitis media or hearing difficulties.
These modifications were included for all children in national data collection in 2009. The recommendations seek to strengthen recognition and appreciation of Indigenous cultural ways of understanding and promoting children's learning and adaptive behaviour by school and other early childhood personnel. The Indigenous Adaptation Study is an important step in ensuring not only the cultural accuracy of the AEDI, but also its effectiveness in empowering communities to enhance the development of all children in their critical early years.
Existing AEDI community preparation materials and AEDI community reporting processes were reviewed at community forums and consultations and new strategies identified for dissemination of the findings and their translation into action by communities, government and non-government service providers. Templates for presenting AEDI findings using a variety of visual representations of data customised to local requirements and language were developed and trialled including icons and bar graphs to enhance lay understanding of scientific concepts. Laminated A3 flip-charts and posters describing the AEDI domains in a 'mindmap' with photos showing practical examples of children's behaviours and competencies were found to be particularly useful for engaging with parents and community stakeholders.
The study findings highlight the benefits of collaborative checklist completion by teachers and Indigenous cultural consultants as a valuable professional and personal development opportunity for both Indigenous and non- Indigenous school personnel. The findings confirm that the adapted AEDI can be reliably and effectively administered in conjunction with the existing AEDI process and provides a culturally equivalent community-level measure of overall early child development. Dissemination methods are now being developed and trialled in the Northern Territory and Queensland and in the Pilbara Western Desert communities. Training packages are being developed to build capacity and enable communities across Australia to advocate for early childhood and work with the AEDI results locally.
A report on the findings of project is available on the AEDI website.
Silburn S, Brinkman S, Ferguson-Hill S, Styles I, Walker R, and Shepherd C. 2009 The Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) Indigenous Adaptation Study. Perth: Curtin University of Technology and Telethon Institute for Child Health Research.
Funders of the project: Funding through Shell Australia, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (Australian Government).