MTPConnect Opens $6M Funding Round Targeting Projects to Benefit the Health and Wellbeing of Indigenous Australians Living with Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease

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30 January 2023

MTPConnect’s Targeted Translation Research Accelerator (TTRA) program today opens a new funding round to support diabetes and cardiovascular disease research projects that address the unmet health and medical needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in rural, remote, regional, and urban centres.

MTPConnect CEO, Stuart Dignam, says the funding round aims to have a lasting impact on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous communities.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are significantly disproportionately affected by diabetes and cardiovascular disease at up to four times the rate of Australia’s wider population,” Mr Dignam said.

“Our new TTRA round, which is open until 28 April, has been specifically designed to focus substantial funding and efforts to address these stark health inequities.”

To develop this Indigenous-specific round, MTPConnect has partnered with the Lowitja Institute to lead the priority setting and ensure the voices of Indigenous communities have been centred in every aspect of the process to determine the health priority areas that will receive research funding.

Eligible Research Projects must develop innovative preventative, diagnostic, therapeutic and/or disease management products, services and/or models of care for diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease (D&CVD) to address one of the following priority areas:

Priority 1: Strengths-based perspectives to chronic disease – a need to adopt a strengths-based perspective to chronic disease, which builds and develops the existing strengths, skills and capacities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Priority 2: Culturally safe programs and supports – development of culturally safe programs and supports for D&CVD prevention and promotion of ‘healthy lifestyles’ among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, using empowering, evidence-based, health promotion campaigns.

Priority 3: Culturally safe strategies to address cardiometabolic disease – culturally safe strategies to address cardiometabolic disease / risk factors to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women prior to and during pregnancy. This should also include a focus on babies through the life course, including management of women with pre-existing and gestational diabetes.

Successful projects will be expected to include substantial and meaningful community engagement, as well as embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in all aspects of the project.

Lowitja Institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed says Indigenous-led partnership and collaboration is critical for delivering research impact.

“The history of research in Australia is that research was used as a tool of colonial violence and data was weaponised against our peoples. It was embedded in a deficit discourse, which makes the presumption that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are a problem that requires fixing.”

“By ensuring the research priorities are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led, we are supporting the strong and growing community of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers in Australia who have the power to ensure research is underpinned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander principles and protocols and is making a large impact to our peoples’ health outcomes.”

Additionally, to guide the delivery and implementation of this third round and maximise its impact, MTPConnect also established the TTRA Indigenous Advisory Group (IAG) to involve prominent Indigenous researchers, clinicians and thought leaders, as well as representatives from organisations that have deep engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through direct healthcare delivery.

The TTRA program strives to achieve maximum impact by targeting funding at priority areas where the need for research and innovation is greatest. For Rounds 1 and 2, these priority areas were determined through an evidence-based, sector wide, consultative needs assessment. This process reinforced the need for funding to be focused on Indigenous health outcomes and highlighted that priority setting must be Indigenous-led for Round 3.

Applications for TTRA Round Three will close on Friday 28 April 2023 at 4:00pm AEST. More information about the application process, project eligibility and selection criteria can be found here. An information session webinar will be held on Monday 6 February 2023 at 12:30pm AEDT, register to attend.

About the Lowitja Institute:

Australia’s national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, named in honour of their Patron, Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue AC CBE DSG, is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation working for the health and wellbeing of Australia’s First Peoples through high impact quality research, knowledge translation, and by supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers.

About the TTRA Indigenous Advisory Group Members*:

  • Professor Alex Brown, Professor of Indigenous Genomics, Australian National University | Telethon Kids Institute
  • Dr Fergus Gardiner, Director, National Emergency Response, Public Health and Research, Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia
  • Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver AM, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Strategy & Services, University of Sydney; Professor Public Health and Epidemiologist, Sydney Medical School
  • Ray Kelly, Indigenous Allied Health Australia
  • Chris Lee, Assistant Director – Programs, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO)
  • Professor Ray Mahoney, Professor of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Discipline Lead for Population Health, Visiting Scientist, Australian eHealth Research Centre (AeHRC), CSIRO, College of Medicine & Public Health, Flinders University
  • Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO, Lowitja Institute
  • Dr Simon Quilty, Medical Advisor, Purple House (Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Dr Tanya Schramm, Senior lecturer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Education, University of Tasmania
  • Dr Sean Taylor, Executive Director Aboriginal Health & Diversity, NT Health; Deputy Director Indigenous Leadership and Engagement, Menzies School of Health Research; Adjunct Associate Professor, Public Health and Tropical Medicine, James Cook University

* It is important to note, MTPConnect is carefully managing any potential conflicts of interest. Indigenous Advisory Group members are eligible to apply for Round 3 unless they have been involved in the subcommittee that has designed the application process and guidelines.

About the artwork featured above:

The artwork by Ngarrindjeri artist, Jordan Lovegrove, shows the growing ripple effect that Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander-led research has on health and wellbeing. The big meeting place in the centre represents Lowitja Institute and MTPConnect. The smaller coloured meeting places connected by footprints that surround it represents our connection and work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and other partners. The other small meeting places with pathways between, represent the communities that this research positively impacts. MTPConnect is pleased to licence this artwork from Lowitja Institute for the purposes of promoting TTRA Round 3 activities.