Aboriginal hands holding some bush food

Changing the system to change health outcomes

Researchers from the University of South Australia are leading programs in remote communities that are improving the health of Indigenous Australians, tackling scourges like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Community-based research and initiatives by UniSA have improved health outcomes for Aboriginal communities fighting obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Supported by UniSA’s research, the Outback Stores initiative is working to ensure 17,000 Aboriginal residents in 37 locations have access to nutritious, affordable and quality food. Using UniSA’s Healthy Stores Environment Tool, community stores monitor purchasing and track dietary intake, then change in-store promotions accordingly. As a result, the sale of fruit and vegetables from 2012 – 2016 increased by 86 per cent.

Meanwhile, culturally appropriate diabetes management programs developed by UniSA and rolled out in Queensland have reduced related complications by up to 40 per cent over four years, along with sustained decreases in preventable hospitalisations.

To assist health professionals to manage diabetes in pregnancy (DIP), our partnership with policy-makers and health service providers has helped create the Northern Territory DIP Clinical Register. Along with the PANDORA initiative, which aims to improve pregnancy and neonatal diabetes outcomes in remote areas, our work has resulted in improved clinical guidelines,  universal screenings and an informed and improved health service delivery for more than 1,500 women.

These practical legacies stem from UniSA’s sustained work in redesigning health care services and systems that incorporate Aboriginal perspectives, aimed at improving the quality of life for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people.