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$2.5m cancer CRE sparked by Institute Roundtable

A Cancer Roundtable hosted by the Lowitja institute in December 2010 was the spark that led to the recent award of $2.5 million for the establishment of a new Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) focused on improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by cancer.

The CRE will be led by Associate Professor Gail Garvey, Program Leader for the Institute’s Healthy Start, Healthy Life research program and a long-time advocate for an increased research focus on issues surrounding cancer among Australia’s First Peoples.

To be formally known as the CRE in Discovering Indigenous Strategies to Improve Cancer Outcomes via Engagement, Research Translation and Training (DISCOVER-TT), the CRE will be run for five years out of the Brisbane office of the Menzies School of Health Research where Associate Professor Garvey is based.

Speaking to Wangka Pulka after the Federal Government’s funding announcement on 3 August 2012, Associate Professor Garvey said the CRE would involve leading researchers in Darwin, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

‘As a supporter of the existing Menzies Cancer Program, the Lowitja Institute will be one of the key collaborators in the CRE’s work along with other organisations such as Cancer Council NSW, Griffith University, the University of Western Australia and the Queensland University of Technology,’ she says.

DISCOVER-TT aims to reduce the marked disparities in diagnosis, treatment and survival for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians with cancer. It will extend recent work in the area and enhance research capacity by developing early career researchers, particularly those from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Associate Professor Garvey said cancer was the second leading cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

‘It is not that the incidence of cancer is higher than among non-Indigenous Australians, it is that death rates are substantially higher, particularly in the first two years after a diagnosis has been made,’ she says.

The original Lowitja Institute-hosted Cancer Roundtable attracted almost 50 representatives from national, State and Territory cancer initiatives, major cancer-treating hospitals, cancer survivors and representatives from the Aboriginal community controlled primary health care sector. It led directly to a Quality Assurance workshop in March 2011, also hosted by the Lowitja Institute, where the need for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer-focused CRE was first identified among a number of other priorities.

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From Wangka Pulka newsletter, issue 7, August 2012.
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Created: 17 August 2012 - Updated: 04 October 2012