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CQUniversity signs MOU to support First Nations health research

Published:14 September 2022

TOP: Professor Adrian Miller and Professor Sue McGinty. BOTTOM: Professor Rosita Henry, Professor Sue McGinty, Dr Anthony McMahon, Professor Alexandra Aikhenvald.

TOP: Professor Adrian Miller and Professor Sue McGinty. BOTTOM: Professor Rosita Henry, Professor Sue McGinty, Dr Anthony McMahon, Professor Alexandra Aikhenvald.

CQUniversity’s Jawun Research Centre has further cemented its commitment to the health of First Nations people in Northern Australia, signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The Tropical Brain and Mind Foundation.

The memorandum was officially signed in May by Director of the Jawun Research Centre, Professor Adrian Miller and Chairperson of the Tropical Brain and Mind Foundation, Dr Cathy Day - signifying the start of a strong partnership for years to come.

Professor Adrian Miller said the MoU will create a joint focus on mental and psychological health to highlight potential issues and support resilience for the benefit of Indigenous people.

“The research excellence and expertise of The Tropical Brain and Mind Foundation in brain health and brain skills made this an ideal collaboration,” he said.

“This partnership will spearhead a series of multidisciplinary projects that focus on the social and cultural wellbeing of Indigenous nations, with special attention on mental health research.”

Most recently, the Jawun Centre and the Foundation was successful in a collaborative grant application for an ARC Linkage Grant, demonstrating natural synergy between the two organisations.

Announced in August, the research project, named Testing for scale up: An Indigenous social and emotional learning program, secured $448,440 to improve access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander middle school students through a ground-breaking resilience program.

Deputy Chair of The Tropical Brain and Mind Foundation, Professor Sue McGinty said this shared vision will be critical to help address brain health concerns in the north.

“Brain health has been neglected in the tropics, even though 50 per cent of the world’s population will live in the tropics by 2050,” she said.

“Research has shown that the incidence of disease related to the brain and mental health has increased by 70 per cent over the past three decades.”

She explained that the tropics have many vulnerable societies where the brain and mental health are badly impacted by infectious diseases, psycho-social trauma and ecological problems.

“We need to develop new cognitive skills and mental resilience to meet these challenges – and the sooner the better,” Prof McGinty said.

“Our joint goal is to find ways and means to assist people in the tropics, especially First Nations peoples, to identify, prevent and deal with issues that create brain and mental ill-health.

“We hope this new partnership will foster a collaborative culture where we, and the people we work with, will all benefit. We both have strong networks which will be mutually beneficial.”