The Lowitja Institute traces its roots back more than two decades. It includes the pioneering work of our two predecessor organisations, the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Aboriginal and Tropical Health and the CRC for Aboriginal Health.
Our story begins in the Northern Territory in 1990, when the Darwin-based Menzies School of Health Research led a bid for a proposed CRC for Communicable Disease Control in Aboriginal Communities. This bid failed to win Commonwealth funding but it identified the need to have Aboriginal health services as partners in any future bid.
In August 2017, we published a brief history of the work and achievements since 1997 called Changing the Narrative in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research: Four Cooperative Research Centres and the Lowitja Institute: The story so far
The CRC for Aboriginal and Tropical Health 1997–2003
The CRC for Aboriginal and Tropical Health (CRCATH) opened in Darwin in 1997 with six core partners, including two Aboriginal health services. The Chair was Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue, our current Patron. The CRCATH brought together researchers and Aboriginal community organisations for research focused on five priority areas:
- Indigenous education
- Health resources and service delivery
- Public health
- Communication and information
The CRC for Aboriginal Health 2003–2009
The CRC for Aboriginal Health (CRCAH) was also based in Darwin. Under the leadership of its Chair Ms Pat Anderson, the CRCAH brought together 12 core partners and six associate partners from research institutions, government agencies and Aboriginal Health Services around Australia.
The CRCAH made the decision to integrate its research with capacity development and research transfer activities to ensure that outcomes had a practical impact in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It developed five research programs:
- Chronic conditions
- Comprehensive primary health care, health systems and workforce
- Healthy skin
- Social and emotional wellbeing
- Social determinants of health.
The successful track record of the two previous CRCs saw the Commonwealth approve the 2009 rebid for a third CRC, the term of which expired in June 2014. The CRC for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (CRCATSIH) was managed by the Lowitja Institute, which has Dr O’Donoghue as its Patron and Ms Pat Anderson AO as Chair of its Board.
Operating out of the Institute’s Melbourne head office – with branches in Adelaide, Brisbane and Darwin – the CRCATSIH retained the same 12 core partners (now known as Essential Participants) from the CRCAH, increasing that number to 14. Its focus is on applying the research that was developed in the previous CRCs, through an emphasis on knowledge exchange and translation into practice. Three programs were developed:
The Lowitja Institute Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health CRC (Lowitja Institute CRC) commenced operation on 1 July 2014. The Lowitja Institute CRC is hosted by the Lowitja Institute, an Aboriginal organisation whose Board is chaired by Ms Pat Anderson AO. The Institute operates from its head office in Melbourne; branches in Adelaide, Brisbane and Darwin have been closed.
Our vision is to achieve equity in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and we will work towards this vision through the development of robust research programs in three areas: