JCU research to investigate Closing the Gap
Is Closing the Gap working? Do Indigenous Australians think it is effective? How do we measure what works?
These questions will be raised in new James Cook University research being funded as part of the 2015 Australian Research Council (ARC) Major Grants round, which was announced today.
A total of $354 million was awarded to projects across a broad range of research areas, with JCU receiving more than $1.7 million for four projects.
For JCU, the 2015 ARC Major Grants announcement includes:
· $612,845 for a project under the Discovery Indigenous (DI) scheme
· $511,100 for a project under the Discovery Projects (DP) scheme
· $358,536 for a project under the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme
· $270,000 for a project under the Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) scheme.
The DI scheme develops and supports the research expertise of Indigenous Australian researchers.
Dr Felecia Watkin Lui, Dr Roxanne Bainbridge, Professor Yvonne Cadet-James, Professor Komla Tsey and Dr Janya McCalman will receive $612,845 for their project focusing on Indigenous research benefit.
In 2008, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to six targets to address the disadvantage faced by Indigenous Australians in life expectancy, child mortality, education and employment.
Closing the Gap is a long-term, ambitious framework that builds on the foundation of respect and unity provided by the 2008 National Apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Dr Watkin Lui said their proposed project aims to address two main ‘Closing the Gap’ priority areas; Indigenous health and education, by questioning what constitutes research benefit from an Indigenous perspective, and how can the benefits of research be measured to ensure sustainable outcomes for Indigenous communities.
“Despite some gains in recent times, there remains a critical concern that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been over-researched without benefits or corresponding improvements in their health, education and other outcomes,” Dr Watkin Lui said.
“Yet, research output in the form of publications and reports on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continues to grow.
“This raises two important questions: what types of research are likely to achieve benefits and how is benefit defined from the point of view of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?
“The main outcome of this project lies in improving the long term benefits of research, enhancing the wellbeing of Indigenous communities, as well as building research capability.”
In other projects being funded, Professor Peter Junk and a team of researchers will receive $270,000 under the LIEF scheme for a study into a nuclear magnetic resonance facility for Northern Australia.
Dr Lucas Cernusak will receive $511,000 under the DP grants scheme, for work into water vapour in leaves, aiming to determine when and to what extent the air inside leaves becomes unsaturated with water vapour.
DECRA recipient Dr Jodie Rummer will receive $358,000 over three years to examine the effects of ocean acidification on coral reef fishes due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).