The Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia Inc. (AHCSA) is a membership-based peak body with a leadership, watchdog, advocacy and sector support role, and a commitment to Aboriginal self-determination. It is the health voice for Aboriginal peoples across South Australia representing the expertise, needs and aspirations of Aboriginal communities at both state and national levels based on a holistic understanding of health. AHCSA is a collective term that includes both the membership and the Secretariat. The role of the Secretariat is to undertake the work that AHCSA directs them to do via its Board, on which all member organisations are represented.
The Aboriginal Health Research Ethics Committee (AHREC) is a subcommittee of the AHCSA and is mandated by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) as a Human Research Ethics Committee. AHREC was established in 1986 following concerns by the then Aboriginal Health Organisation of South Australia about the increasing volume of research being conducted in Aboriginal communities in South Australia. The AHREC’s objectives are to monitor and coordinate medical and health research in Aboriginal communities in South Australia, to offer advice to communities on the ethics, methodology and potential benefits of research and to review the research needs of Aboriginal communities in order to determine priorities for research.
Between 2003 and 2008, AHCSA was part of a Centre of Clinical Research Excellence (CCRE) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health with Flinders University of South Australia. Formed as a collaborative project in chronic condition research, it was the first CCRE to focus on Aboriginal health research and involved AHCSA, several Aboriginal community controlled health organisations and various researchers. Since this time, AHCSA has been involved as a collaborative partner on numerous research projects.
As partners in the national effort to close the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy and improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, AHCSA is engaging with the Lowitja Institute on Aboriginal health research matters. Our engagement is based upon a mutual belief that research involving Aboriginal people in South Australia is conducted in an ethical manner that is culturally appropriate, is led and managed by Aboriginal people and empowers Aboriginal people by building upon their research capacity.