The Healthy Ageing Research Team (HART) are based at James Cook University, Nguma-bada Campus in Cairns, Far North Queensland, Australia. The team includes academics, clinicians, and researchers, all with an interest in gerontology and integrated service delivery models. We have team members based in the Torres Strait, Cairns and Brisbane. Our research priorities are driven by community identified priorities and clinical need. Our aim is to work with communities to improve health systems and healthcare delivery to enhance the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to develop innovative models of integrated health service delivery for older adults within Far North Queensland.
This project aims to develop an understanding of key assets for a strengths-based approach to targeting diet and activity components of chronic disease in the Torres Strait. This information will be used to co-design, implement and evaluate community-led chronic disease prevention interventions at an individual and service provider level. The project involves yarning with communities, developing app-based diet and activity assessment tools specific for the Torres Strait, environmental mapping, and co-design workshops to develop interventions based on community-specific requirements.
Funding: Ian Potter Foundation $375,000; FNQ Hospital Foundation $25,000; Dementia Australia $75,000; Hot North $26,000
The aim of this project is to work with Torres Strait communities to develop social and emotional wellbeing screening tools for use in primary care centres across the Torres Strait. As part of this project, we are yarning with communities and health care staff about how people talk about and show when they are depressed and worried. We will use this information to develop and validate appropriate screening tools to assess social and emotional wellbeing. Communities participating in the project include Nguraupai, Waiben, Poruma, Boigu, and Erub Islands and communities in the Northern Peninsula Area.
University of Queensland, Queensland Health.
Duration: August 2019 – July 2025
Funding: NHMRC, Boosting Dementia Research Grant $1,515,145
The aim of this project is to work with Aboriginal Health Services within metropolitan, regional and remote areas of Queensland to strengthen healthy ageing and dementia prevention services for their communities. As part of this project, we are yarning with communities about what their understanding of dementia and the risk factors for dementia and identifying their priorities for maintaining health and wellbeing as they age. We are working with health services to address these priorities using continuous quality improvement methods. Outcomes will include a toolkit of resources and educational programs for health centres to support the health and wellbeing of older community members.
Menzies School of Health Research, Northern Territory Health, Primary Health Network, Queensland Health, Southern Queensland Centre of Excellence, University of Melbourne, University of Sydney, University of Western Australia.
Duration: June 2019 – May 2025
Funding: NHMRC, Targeted Research $1,100,540
The aim of this project is to work with communities and primary health care centres in the Torres Strait to develop a framework to facilitate ageing well within their communities. In this project, we are yarning with communities about what it means to age well and what their priorities are as they age. We are working with primary health care centres to address these priorities using continuous quality improvement methods. Outcomes include a quality framework of best practice screening and assessment with a toolbox of resources to support healthy ageing that can be implemented at the community and primary health level in Torres Strait Communities.
The project is running in partnership with the Post-Acute Rehabilitation and Aged Care program (PARAC) on Thursday Island and primary health services from Kirriri, Ngurupai, Warraber and Wug islands, and Bamaga on the Northern Peninsula Area.
Duration: July 2018 – June 2024
Funding: NHMRC, Boosting Dementia Research Initiative and Targeted Research Funding $631,966
The Let's CHAT (Community Health Approaches To) Dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities is a research project working with 12 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) around Australia to improve detection of cognitive impairment and dementia, as well as dementia care and brain health in the primary care context. This is a co-design project working with ACCHS staff and a range of stakeholders in the area of Indigenous health and aged care to enhance the overall health outcomes and quality of life of older people who have cognitive impairment or dementia, their families and communities. Click here for more information about this project.
Twelve Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and Indigenous primary health care centres representative of regional, metropolitan and remote geographic regions in NSW, NT, WA and QLD will participate in the study.
Duration: 2020 - 2024
Funding: NHMRC Centres of Research Excellence Grant $24,000
The aim of this project is to modify a quality-of-life tool, Good Spirit Good Life, that has been developed specifically for older adults living in Aboriginal Communities for the Torres Strait. The project will involve yarning with communities in the Torres Strait about what ‘a good life’ means to them and how the existing tool needs to be changed for the Torres Strait. This tool will them be piloted on Waiben and within the Northern Peninsula Area.
University of Western Australia
Funding: TAAHC Research Assistance Scheme $20,000
The aim of this project is to explore the experience of caregivers living in the Torres Strait. The aim is to identify what works well and what people need to be supported in their role as a carer. Yarning circles will focus on key issues such as day to day experiences of caregiving, facilitators and barriers to accessing support and providing care and how the health service can respond to carer issues. Findings will guide the development of an appropriate framework for the assessment of caregiving that can be used by primary health care services in the Torres Strait. This study will take place on Waiben.
Funding: NHMRC Targeted Call $ 159,942
This project will investigate the factors that predict healthy ageing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by following up a group of older adults who completed a health check including assessment of their thinking and memory abilities, between 2015-2018 in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area. We will combine information collected in this and the previous study with another ongoing study in Western Australia which has also collected two sets of data at different time points.
University of Western Australia
University of Melbourne
National Ageing Research Institute
Funding: Australian Association of Gerontology $29,992
This project will produce a series of podcasts about ageing well and dementia prevention specific to the Torres Strait and local Cairns Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Radio 4MW, Thursday Island
Funding: TAAHC $20,000 and CRE Stride $10,000
This project aims to work with Injilinji residential aged care facility to develop and pilot a continuous quality improvement framework with accompanying tool kit for strengthening the quality of dementia care and promoting resident health and well-being in residential aged care facilities.
Injilinji Residential Aged Care Unit
2017-2022 and now permanently funded through Queensland Health: OPEN ARCH. Implementation of integrated models of Geriatric care. Funding from QLD Excellence Division (QH) and North QLD Primary Health Network $1.9m
2015-2019: Dementia Prevalence in the Torres Strait. Funded through NHMRC Project grant $365,000
2016: Validation of the KICA-screen for telehealth. Funded through FNQ Hospital Foundation $3000
2015-2016: Culturally appropriate stroke services for Qld Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
2015-2016: ASPIRE – Qualitative study examining care transitions of older patients. Australian Primary Healthcare research institute $175,000
2014: Pilot dementia prevalence study on Hammond Island. Funded through Mason Foundation $60,000
2013: Dementia Knowledge survey in Cape York. Funded through Dementia Collaborative Research Centres $23,249
Thompson, F., Russell, S., Quigley, R., McDonald, M., Sagigi, B., Taylor, S., Campbell, S., Schmidt, B., Esterman ,A., Harriss, LR., Miller, G., Mills, P., Strivens, E., and McDermott, R. (2023). Primary care biomarkers and dementia in people of the Torres Strait, Australia: extended data analysis. Front. Dement. 2:1218709. doi: 10.3389/frdem.2023.1218709
Meldrum, K., Andersson, E., Webb, T., Quigley, R., Strivens, E., & Russell, S. (2023). Screening depression and anxiety in Indigenous peoples: A global scoping review. Transcultural Psychiatry. doi.org/10.1177/13634615231187257
Thompson, F., Russell, S., Quigley, R., Sagigi, B., Miller, G., Esterman, A., Harriss, LR., Taylor, S., McDermott, R., and Strivens, E. (2023). Dementia Risk Models in an Australian First Nations Population: Cross-Sectional Associations and Preparation for Follow-Up. J Alzheimers Dis Rep;7(1):543-555. doi: 10.3233/ADR-220093
Thompson, F., Russell, S., Quigley, R., Sagigi, B., Taylor, S., McDonald, M., Campbell, S., Esterman, A., Harriss, L. R., Miller, G., Strivens, E., & McDermott, R. (2022). Potentially preventable dementia in a First Nations population in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area of North Queensland, Australia: A cross sectional analysis using population attributable fractions. The Lancet Regional Health – Western Pacific, 26, doi.org/10.1016/j.lanwpc.2022.100532
Meldrum, K., Andersson, E., Sagigi, B., Webb, T., Wapau, C., Quigley, R., Strivens, E., & Russell, S. (2022). How Australian First Nations peoples living in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area of Australia describe and discuss social and emotional wellbeing: a qualitative study protocol. BMJ open, 12, e067052. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2022-067052
Kinchin I., Kelley, S., Meshcheriakova, E., Viney, R., Mann, J., Thompson, F., & Strivens, E. (2022). Cost-effectiveness of a community-based integrated care model compared with usual care for older adults with complex needs: a stepped-wedge cluster-randomised trial. BMJ open, 4, e000137. doi:10.1136/ihj-2022-000137
Russell, S. G., Quigley, R., Thompson, F., Sagigi, B., Miller, G., LoGiudice, D., Smith, K., Strivens, E., Pachana, N. A. (2022). Culturally Appropriate Assessment of Depression and Anxiety in Older Torres Strait Islanders: limitations and Recommendations. Clinical Gerontologist, 1-13, doi/full/10.1080/07317115.2022.2086090
Meldrum, K., Andersson, E., Wallace, V., Webb, T., Quigley, R., Strivens, E., & Russell, S. (2022). Approaches to the development of new mental well-being screening tools for Indigenous peoples: a systematic mixed studies review protocol. BMJ open, 12(8), e063710, bmjopen.bmj.com/content/12/8/e063710.abstract
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Bradley, K., Smith, R., Hughson, J. A., Atkinson, D., Bessarab, D., Flicker, L., Radford, K., Smith, K., Strivens, E., Thompson, S., Blackberry, I., & LoGiudice, D. (2020). Let's CHAT (community health approaches to) dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities: protocol for a stepped wedge cluster randomised controlled trial. BMC Health Serv Res, 20(1), 208. doi:10.1186/s12913-020-4985-1
Buikstra, E., Strivens, E., & Clay-Williams, R. (2020). Understanding variability in discharge planning processes for the older person. Safety Science, 121, 137-146. doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2019.08.026
Edelman, A., Grundy, J., Larkins, S., Topp, S., Atkinson, D., Patel, B., Strivens, E., Moodley, N., & Wittaker, M. (2020). Health service delivery and workforce in northern Australia: a scoping review. Rural Remote Health. 20(4). doi: 10.22605/RRH6168
Hamiduzzaman, M., Kuot, A., Greenhill, J., Strivens, E., & Isaac, V. (2020). Towards personalized care: Factors associated with the quality of life of residents with dementia in Australian rural aged care homes. PLoS ONE, 15(5), e0233450. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0233450
Quigley, R., Russell, S., Sagigi, B., Miller, G., & Strivens, E. (2020). A framework of healthy ageing for the Torres Strait: A grassroots approach to dementia risk reduction: Prevention (nonpharmacological) / Multidomain. Alzheimer's & Dementia, 16. doi:10.1002/alz.039641
Russell, S., Quigley, R., Sagigi, B., Miller, G., & Strivens, E. (2020). Collaborating with Australian Indigenous communities: A protocol to address the high rates of dementia found in aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: Prevention (nonpharmacological) / Multidomain. Alzheimer's & Dementia, 16. doi:10.1002/alz.037895
Hughson, J., Flicker, L., Bradley, K., Belfrage, M., Strivens, E., Bessarab, D., Atkinson, D., Radford, K., Russell, S., Quigley, R., Allan, W., Malay, R., Sullivan, K., Ducker, B., & Logiudice, D. (2020). Let’s CHAT – Dementia: Primary care model of care to optimise detection and management of dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander older people: Determination of the risk factor profile in this population: Epidemiology / Risk and protective factors in MCI and dementia. Alzheimer's & Dementia, 16. doi:10.1002/alz.041319
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This short video was filmed on Moa Island in Torres Strait. The HART team collaborated with The University of Queensland’s DREAMT team to write and develop the film. Dr Eddy Strivens is the Geriatrician in the film, enacting a life-like consultation for a person with dementia and their family. Close consultation occurred with the people from the Torres community and the video was co-written and directed by Samson Tamwoy, a local Torres Strait Islander Health Worker.
The full telehealth consultation with Dr Eddy Strivens can be seen here.
Dr Eddy Strivens is a practising clinician and national leader in geriatric medicine and dementia, working in Far North Queensland for over 20 years. He has held an academic appointment with James Cook University since the commencement of the Clinical School in Cairns. His research interests are in Culturally Appropriate Assessment, Healthy Ageing, Integrated Care and Models of Service Delivery. He has worked extensively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities in Far North Queensland and has validated the use of culturally appropriate cognitive assessment tools in this population. He is practised in linking research with clinical outcomes in these communities.
Dr Sarah Russell is an Associate Professor with the College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University and is a founding member of the Healthy Ageing Research Team (HART). Her research focuses on healthy ageing and dementia, with a particular focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in FNQ. This includes developing and validating appropriate screening tools for cognition and socioemotional wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torrs Strait communities. Sarah holds a Masters/PhD in Clinical Neuropsychology and works as a Clinical Neuropsychologist in private practice. Sarah also provides research supervision to postgraduate students and clinical supervision to psychologists and neuropsychologists.
Rachel Quigley is a physiotherapist working in the field gerontology for over 20 years. She has worked in the UK, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Australia. She holds a clinical role in Cairns Hospital, as the Older Persons Liaison Advanced Clinician and has completed a MPhil through Griffith University focusing on the experiences of carers of older adults as they navigate aged care and health care systems. Rachel also holds a senior research position with the Healthy Ageing Research Team (HART) at James Cook University, Queensland, Australia. This research role focuses on projects involved with dementia and ageing within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations in Far North Queensland as well as models of integrated care. She is undertaking a PhD through JCU, developing a framework of healthy ageing for the Torres Strait.
Gavin studied Medicine at the University of Newcastle and is a Senior Medical Officer in Geriatric Medicine with Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service. He is an Investigator on the Reducing risk in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities and A Framework for Healthy Ageing in the Torres Strait, with HART.
Betty Sagigi, JP (Mag CT.)
Betty Sagigi is a Torres Strait Islander Indigenous Health Worker. She is the Aged Care Assessment Team Coordinator and Assessor for the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area, working as part of Thursday Island’s Primary Health Post-Acute Rehab and Aged Care Program within Torres and Cape Hospital & Health Services for the last 10 years. Prior to this role, she managed Commonwealth Funding Agreements for the Primary Health Care Indigenous Health Programs and managed initiatives under Queensland State Government Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy. Betty has been an integral part of the Healthy Ageing Research Team and has worked on the Dementia Prevalence study from design, data collection and through to knowledge translation. She has ensured the screening tools for dementia are culturally appropriate, facilitated maximum community participation and ensured that community consultation and engagement is conducted in a culturally safe and appropriate way.
Valda (Val) identifies as a Gugu Badhun woman (Valley of Lagoons/Ewan Country) and acknowledges her South Sea Islander, German, Chinese and European heritage. Val grew up on the Atherton Tablelands and has ties to the Torres Strait Island communities through family, friends and work colleagues. Val’s lived experience as an Aboriginal person is complemented by professional qualifications and her work. As such she has an in depth understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as two separate cultural groups each with their own world views and cultural values and beliefs and different histories, experiences and circumstances. Her work background which spans over forty years includes health, policing and academia and she has experience in qualitative research, community engagement, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander protocols and research ethics. Val believes that despite the challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, our knowledges, strong cultural beliefs, strengths and resilience continue to contribute to innovation and research, community development, provision of appropriate services and improved health and educational outcomes. Working towards improved outcomes drives Val’s passion for working with her people.
Kathryn Meldrum is an exercise physiologist by discipline. She has over twenty years of research experience mainly focussed on health and physical activity. Kathryn also has a background in program evaluation. As a Senior Research Fellow with the Healthy Ageing Research Team, Kathryn is managing the “Developing culturally appropriate tools for screening for common mental health disorders in older adults living in the Torres Strait” project.
Jennifer co-developed and is the current program manager for the Older Persons Integrated Health Service in Cairns that provides comprehensive care for frail older persons and those with complex needs in the ED, community and residential care settings. Jennifer is an occupational therapist by profession and holds a Master of Public Health. She is a PhD candidate at James Cook University through which she is exploring the effectiveness of the OPEN ARCH service - an integrated model of care for older persons with complex needs. Jennifer is passionate about integrated care solutions – she attended the International Summer School on Integrated Care at Oxford University in 2019 and is an active member of the International Foundation of Integrated Care.
Yvonne is an Early Career Research Fellow on the NHMRC funded project - Dementia Risk Reduction in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. She is a medical anthropologist by training, with a research interest in lifestyle-related risk factors for chronic disease, including dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Yvonne is based in Brisbane and has worked in primary and secondary health services research since moving from the UK, to Australia in 2014. She has collaborated with HART, conducting ageing related research with remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Far North Queensland, including the Torres Strait since 2015. Her previous research has centred on quantitative and qualitative investigations into lifestyle related factors for chronic disease in ethnic minority children.
Dr Kishani Townshend (PhD, MAPS) is a Post Doctoral Research Fellow and Registered Psychologist. Kishani has a diverse cultural background, having lived in Asia, Africa, England and Australia. This gives her a broad cross-cultural understanding of her clients, enabling her to help them each develop their unique capacity for healing and resilience. She completed a PhD on affect regulation at the University of Adelaide. Her undergraduate degrees have majors in psychology, human resource development and counselling. Over the last 16 years, her clinical practice works with those presenting with depression, anxiety, Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), sexual assault, learning difficulties, grief, loss, narcissistic abuse and perinatal depression. Her research interests include healthy ageing, resilience, mindfulness, developing culturally appropriate screening tools and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions. She is familiar with systematic review methodology and mixed methods research.
Melissa is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian with a background studying IT. She works as a Dietitian at the Cairns Hospital and Cairns Diabetes Centre. As a Clinical Dietitian, Melissa has worked in geriatrics, rehabilitation, medical, diabetes, and community health; as well as a period with the CHHHS Digital Hospital Team involved with maintaining and training for the hospital's electronic medical record (ieMR). This combination of technology and clinical experience has fostered an interest in whole systems approaches and an understanding of how both upstream and downstream factors impact health outcomes. Melissa grew up in Far North Queensland and has an interest Indigenous health, including how systems design can impact different levels of health for individuals and community in Far North Queensland.
Janet has over 25 years office administration experience and has worked many years in the research team environment and understands the importance of working with a research team to achieve a common goal.
Janet is optimistic and has an empathetic mindset, and having worked in a number of different work environments Janet is capable of collaborating with individuals from various backgrounds and cultures.
In her free time Janet enjoys hiking, camping, and exploring our great country.
Please contact Janet for any HART enquiries.
Ms Chenoa Wapau is a Torres Strait Islander Indigenous Research Assistant. She is a health worker by background and is currently a first year Nursing student. She was previously and remains involved in the Diabetes in Pregnancy Partnership with Menzies School of Health Research. Chenoa remains open and keen to gain further experiences, in aiming to focus on the implementation of upstream interventions and preventing non-communicable diseases from passing on to newer generations within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.
Torres Webb, a proud Australian far north Queenslander, and Indigenous man from the Torres Strait (Erub, Darnley Island). Torres is a passionate community engagement advocate supporting the improvement, achievement, wellbeing, and life chances of Torres Strait Islanders by focusing on “what’s strong rather than what’s wrong”. He is recognised internationally and nationally and for his community engagement and leadership skills. Torres has used these skills in his work with: The Center for Relational Learning (USA); Youth Challenge Vanuatu; Australian Council of State School Organisations; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance; Wuchopperen Health Service; Parent & Citizens (P&C) Queensland; and Education Queensland.
Diane is a member of the Gugu Badhun nation of the Valley of Lagoons in north Queensland. Her lived experience as an Aboriginal person in conjunction with qualifications and experience working in the Indigenous sector informs her approach to working to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. She has a background in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, supporting students to reach their full potential and families to navigate the system. Her other interests lie in research, working with groups and communities to ensure appropriate research protocols are in place and assisting researchers to engage respectfully and ethically with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the research process. Currently she is part of the Healthy Ageing Research Team undertaking a project to better understand what healthy ageing means for Torres Strait Islanders.
Fintan Thompson has qualifications in epidemiology and clinical neuropsychology. He works as a Data Analyst at James Cook University and a Clinical Neuropsychologist Registrar at the Cairns Hospital. He has previously worked in epidemiology for governments, academia and humanitarian organisations. As a clinical neuropsychologist, Fintan has worked in rehabilitation, geriatrics, psychiatry and paediatrics. This combination of epidemiology and clinical experience provides Fintan with an understanding of how injury and disease at the population level impacts people at the individual level. He is from Far North Queensland and has an interest Indigenous health, including how midlife risk and protective factors influence cognitive functioning in later life.