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Our History

The Lowitja Institute traces its roots back more than two decades. It includes the pioneering work of three Cooperative Research Centres (CRC), the CRC for Aboriginal and Tropical Health, the CRC for Aboriginal Health , and the CRC for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. 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 (CRCATH, 1997–2003) 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 Biomedical.

The CRC for Aboriginal Health (CRCAH, 2003–2009) 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 CRC for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (CRCATSIH, 2010–2014) was hosted 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, the CRCATSIH's focus was 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: Healthy Start, Healthy Life; Healthy Communities and Settings; and Enabling Policy and Systems.

The Lowitja Institute Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health CRC (Lowitja Institute CRC, 2014–2019) commenced operations on 1 July 2014, hosted by the Lowitja Institute. 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: Community capability and the social determinants of health Needs and opportunities for a workforce to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health Health policy and systems.