The Indigenous Health Equity Unit conducts rigorous and innovative research and teaching that recognises the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to promote wellbeing. Our work is underpinned by principles of self-determination and we work in partnership with Communities and appreciates the support of Community Elders. The Unit's academic program is based on Indigenous values and principles, but also respects the contribution and cultural background of all those that work with the Unit. The Unit's work draws on a variety of academic disciplines including health sciences, social sciences, history, political science, education, health promotion, public health and child health.
Current projects include:
- Healing the Past By Nurturing the Future.
- Developing a culturally responsive trauma-informed public health emergency response framework for First Nations families and communities during COVID-19
The Indigenous Health Equity Unit is committed to research that is underpinned by principles of Indigenous community development and that will lead to long-term improvements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. The Unit works in partnership with the Koori Community and appreciates the support of Community Elders. The Unit's work draws on a variety of academic disciplines including health sciences, social sciences, history, political science, education, health promotion, public health and child health.
Healing the past by nurturing the future
Promoting healing and change. Co-designing and implementing perinatal strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents experiencing complex trauma
Developing a culturally responsive trauma-informed public health emergency response framework for First Nations families and communities during COVID-19
Professor Cath Chamberlain
Midwife/Professor of Indigenous Health, The University of Melbourne
Professor Cath Chamberlain
Cath is a descendant of the Trawlwoolway People (Tasmania), with over 25 years’ experience in reproductive and child health, including program and hospital service management, policy
implementation,guideline development, evidence-based practice and research.
Ms Debra Bowman
Research Assistant in Indigenous Public Health
Debra will be support the project with cultural leadership, resource development (including stories for parents) and more. Debra Bowman is a proud Ngemba woman from Brewarrina, NSW. She is currently studying her masters degree with the University of Melbourne and The Dulwich Centre in Adelaide in Narrative Therapy & Community Work, which she is very passionate about as storytelling and yarning comes natural to her cultural ways of being and keeps her grounded and connected to her cultural heritage.
Dr Tess Bright
Lead on the Healing the past by Nuturing the future project
Dr Tess Bright
Dr Elise Davis
Deputy Head of the Unit for Health Equity, Senior Research Fellow
Dr Elise Davis is a public health researcher who is passionate about supporting child and parent mental health. She particularly enjoys evaluation and outcome measurement as well as qualitative interviewing and analysis. Elise has worked in university settings and non-government organisations for the past 20 years.
Dr Renee Fiolet
Research Fellow - Indigenous Health Equity Unit
Dr Renee Fiolet is a non-Indigenous woman born and raised on Wadawurrung Country (of the Kulin Nation) where she still lives today. In Renee's words "I am terribly lucky to be a visitor on these beautiful lands that include the beaches along the Surf Coast of South Victoria."
Renee has a background in nursing which is primary health care focused and has been an academic in the profession for a long time. Her research priorities include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, health equity and addressing the barriers which marginalised people experience when accessing care. Renee's thesis reported on the community-based participatory methods used to a co-designed family violence resource developed with the Wadawurrung community for their community members.
Dr Kimberley Jones
Research Fellow in the Indigenous Health Equity Unit
Dr Kimberley Jones is a non-indigenous researcher born on Awabakal Country, now living on Wurundjeri Country in the Kulin Nation. Kim is a Research Fellow with expertise in evidence synthesis and trauma research. Kim’s research interests are focused on health equity in marginalised populations. She is passionate about improving health and wellbeing outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.
Kim completed undergraduate studies in biomedical science, a PhD in Neuroscience studying the effect of stress-related immune responses in the brain, and a Master of International Public Health at UNSW. Kim’s background includes work in health behaviour research, knowledge translation, clinical trials, chronic illness translational research, and trauma-related mental health research. Kim has extensive experience in guideline development, evidence synthesis, and research project design and implementation.
Dr Leo Kamitsis
Research Fellow in the Indigeneous Health Equity Unit
Dr Leo Kamitsis is a psychologist who has worked extensively with Aboriginal men who have experienced an addiction to alcohol and/or other drugs, complex trauma and other mental health issues. He has listened to stories of many Aboriginal men who have experienced severe trauma, but who have also shown incredible courage to overcome their difficulties and embark on a journey of healing.
Leo completed his PhD in October of 2020 at Orygen and the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Youth Mental Health. He did a qualitative study exploring how people with a history of childhood trauma and psychosis experience the effects of antipsychotic medications on trauma-related thoughts, emotions, physical responses and dissociative symptoms.
Ms Leanne Slade
Administrative Officer, University of Melbourne
Leanne is an administrative officer with extensive experience working in administration at a cultural institution. Leanne has a background in early childhood education delivering nature-based programs to children and also has an educational background in psychology.
Dr Anni Moana
Dr Anni Hine Moana has an extensive professional background as a counsellor /psychotherapist and as a counselling educator and now works in research and program development. Anni has a specific interest in learning
from and supporting Australian Aboriginal people and other indigenous peoples who have experienced trauma as a result of settler-colonisation.
Research Assistant, Registered Midwife
Skye Stewart is a Registered Midwife. First and foremost, Skye is a proud Wergaia and Wemba Wemba Custodian and Caretaker. Her cultural role and responsibility is to do what she can to ensure that Aboriginal parents and their babies stay safe, well, alive and together.
Skye has worked with Aboriginal communities around Victoria since she was little, following her Mum around when she was a health worker at a local Aboriginal Co-Op. Over the years she has supported many Aboriginal families accessing and navigating the maternity care system. Many of these families experienced vulnerability with complex trauma backgrounds, however, they have shown incredible resilience and courage. The capacity as humans to ‘come home to oneself’ and begin to heal is a driving force of the work that she does.
Dr Cindy Woods
Senior Research Fellow, La Trobe University
Dr Cindy Woods is a mid-career researcher and her research focuses on Indigenous health and wellbeing, substance use, patient safety, rural and remote health and pregnancy/birth.
Each of our units is involved in research collaborations at local, national and international levels. These range from government departments seeking our input for policy development, to First Nations communities advising our researchers on how best to deliver health and wellbeing programs within their communities.
Relationships sustain our work. Our partnerships include community controlled organisations such as the Lowitja Institute, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation. We also work with governments, health departments and Universities in Australia and internationally.
The efforts of our team have been recognised in many ways, including awards, grants and fellowships.