A researcher seeking to improve care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with dementia is the recipient of top-up funding offered by the Australian Academy of Science.
The Douglas and Lola Douglas Scholarship in Medical Science is made possible through a generous bequest by philanthropist Lola Douglas and provides additional funds to PhD candidates awarded a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Postgraduate Scholarship in Indigenous or primary health care.
The rates of dementia for Indigenous Australians in remote and rural communities are among the highest in the world, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Some important dementia risk factors present at higher levels among Indigenous Australians, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, childhood stress and trauma, and lower socioeconomic status.
Scholarship recipient for 2023 Dr Antonia Clarke will use data from the recent Australia-wide Census and hospital admissions in her project, but said it’s crucial to review the findings through a First Nations lens.
“The Douglas and Lola Douglas Scholarship will positively augment my NHMRC scholarship by directly facilitating community consultation,” said Dr Clarke, a Neurology Fellow and PhD candidate at Monash University.
“The scholarship will directly fund travel and site coordination to facilitate community consultation with people living with dementia, their caregivers, and health care providers.
“Through focus group discussion, we will evaluate the direct impact and awareness of dementia and barriers to care from the perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living across the urban to remote spectrum in New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory.”
Dr Clarke said the findings would be presented to relevant community groups and healthcare organisations.
“In conjunction with other aspects of the project, results of this study will inform culturally safe clinical practice, education and policy development to advance dementia care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living across urban, regional and remote settings,” Dr Clarke said.
Last year’s scholarship recipient, Ms Lorelle Holland, is helping design a culturally appropriate model of care to address complex health needs and the disproportionate incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Find out more about the Douglas and Lola Douglas Scholarship.
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