The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne

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Top right photo in image banner above: from left, George Gurruwiwi, Josh Tynan, Kenny Dhamarrandji, Ruth Gulamanda, Mrs. Dhurrkay, Beverley-Ann Biggs, Hasthi Dissanayake.

Project Title: Marrtjin Limurr Rrambaŋin (walking together): co-designing innovative, culturally adapted methodologies to improve heart health in remote communities in North-East Arnhem Land

Remote communities in North-East Arnhem Land have the highest rate of avoidable deaths in Australia, with cardiovascular disease (CVD) the leading cause. There is an urgent need for early identification of risk factors and culturally sensitive preventative strategies.

This project will improve community access to health services and health knowledge in a culturally safe setting with Indigenous leadership.

In partnership with the community and local health organisation, we will co-design, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of a culturally adapted community-led outreach program integrated with the health service. It will provide novel point-of-care health monitoring, discussion of health results in local language, and share culturally appropriate information with individuals and their families to promote healthier lifestyles for reduction of risk and early detection of CVD.

Embedding the new service in an established organisation with an Indigenous workforce and leadership and strong community engagement is key to sustainability and to long term health improvements.

This project honours, supports and embeds the Yolŋu-led pathway that ensures the project activities are acknowledging, inclusive and respectful of the cultural ways to build a practical and strong sustainable foundation within a capacity building and community driven approach.

Mrs. Dhurrkay, Community Elder and researcher (2023)

“We have to work together to stop our people dying. Everybody – researchers, health service, community organisations. Too many people going to hospital sick. We need deeper knowledge, the inside story (for preventing chronic disease).

George Gurruwiwi, Community Elder and researcher (2023)

“These (chronic) diseases mean that Yolŋu are passing away younger than Balanda (non-indigenous Australians). Yolŋu are passing away 12 years earlier compared to Balanda. We have been working with the University of Melbourne to find manymak (good) solution for Yolŋu health.”

Research participant and local community member (2022)

Yolŋu people don't get the full story of their results or are not given the time/space to ask questions when they're in clinic.”

Professor Beverley-Ann Biggs, Clinician Researcher and Project Lead (2023)

Yolŋu are proud people with a rich cultural heritage, now facing a major health crisis. The TTRA funding will enable the integration of a novel evidence-based community-designed and led approach to cardiovascular disease prevention within the local health service. With strong partner support, we hope to spark a community wide movement to combat these diseases”.

Dr Bronwyn Rossingh, Aboriginal Controlled Health Organisation, Research Director (2023)

“This project walks hand in hand with the community in breaking down the barriers and promoting a practical and cultural way of learning and understanding the health story so that Yolŋu become the leaders and mentors for their own people in improving the health of their families.”

TTRA Project Round:  Three

Project Lead:  Professor Beverly-Ann Biggs

State:  Northern Territory/Victoria

Project Partner:  Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation


  • TTRA: $999,670 
  • Co-contribution: $167,000 in-kind

Duration:  September 2023 – November 2025

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